Safety Planning for Youth With Suicide Risk: A Clinical Audit

Jacups, Susan P., and Kozlowski, Wawrzyniec (Lawrence) (2023) Safety Planning for Youth With Suicide Risk: A Clinical Audit. Australian Social Work, 76 (2). pp. 259-273.

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This quality improvement activity examined Safety Planning Intervention (SPI) over two 3-monthly periods for presentations from 13–17-year-olds with suicidal risk to a regional hospital Emergency Department (ED). We collected patient demography, presentation characteristics, presentation rate, and clinician use of SPI, including those under Emergency Examination Authorities (EEAs). An education workshop was offered between the audits, aimed to increase clinician (social work, psychology, nursing, and psychiatry) knowledge of SPIs. The annual ED presentation rate for suicide risk for 15–17-year-olds was 1,520 per 100,000 persons. More presentations were female, non-Indigenous persons, and fewer than half presented voluntarily. Most presentations were for suicide attempt followed by suicide threat. In the first audit clinicians initiated SPIs in fewer than 50% of cases and completed SPIs in 15%. Whereas in the second audit where SPIs were initiated by clinicians in 69% of cases and fully completed in 49%, less than half the presentations with EEAs received a completed SPI. Indigenous persons, although a lower proportion of presentations, were overrepresented for the population. Following the education workshop, there was an improvement in SPI completion, reflecting the benefits of education and training to clinical staff. Lastly, this study highlights the benefit of conducting audits as quality improvement activities for patient care.

Implications: The international literature indicates an increase in child and youth suicide attempts. This increase requires preparedness from social workers and other clinicians (psychology, nursing, and psychiatry) who offer front-line healthcare for these presentations.

Safety plans are best-practice and tailored strengths-based plans undertaken between a clinician and client so that the client feels confident knowing where to go and to whom to talk to avoid further suicide attempts.

Social workers play an important role in undertaking safety plans with clients (especially those who are particularly vulnerable) in hospital and community settings to maximise client outcomes.

Item ID: 70612
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1447-0748
Keywords: Adolescent, At Risk Persons, Child, Mental Health, Safety Plans, Suicide Prevention
Copyright Information: © 2021 Australian Association of Social Workers
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2022 00:00
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4409 Social work > 440903 Social program evaluation @ 50%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420313 Mental health services @ 50%
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