Brief Interventions for Suicidal Youths in Medical Settings: A Meta-Analysis

Brian H. Pitts*, Reina Doyle, Lauren Wood, Reuven Dar, Stephanie De Jesus Ayala, Tripti Sharma, Marie St Pierre, Bruno Anthony

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


CONTEXT: Most youths who die by suicide have interfaced with a medical system in the year preceding their death, placing outpatient medical settings on the front lines for identification, assessment, and intervention. OBJECTIVE: Review and consolidate the available literature on suicide risk screening and brief intervention with youths in outpatient medical settings and examine common outcomes. DATA SOURCES: The literature search looked at PubMed, OVID, CINAHL, ERIC, and PsychInfo databases. STUDY SELECTION: Interventions delivered in outpatient medical settings assessing and mitigating suicide risk for youths (ages 10–24). Designs included randomized controlled trials, prospective and retrospective cohort studies, and case studies. DATA EXTRACTION: Authors extracted data on rates of referral to behavioral health services, initiation/ adjustment of medication, follow-up in setting of assessment, suicidal ideation at follow-up, and suicide attempts and/or crisis services visited within 1 year of initial assessment. RESULTS: There was no significant difference in subsequent suicide attempts between intervention and control groups. Analysis on subsequent crisis service could not be performed due to lack of qualifying data. Key secondary findings were decreased immediate psychiatric hospitalizations and increased mental health service use, along with mild improvement in subsequent depressive symptoms. LIMITATIONS: The review was limited by the small number of studies meeting inclusion criteria, as well as a heterogeneity of study designs and risk of bias across studies. CONCLUSIONS: Brief suicide interventions for youth in outpatient medical settings can increase identification of risk, increase access to behavioral health services, and for crisis interventions, can limit psychiatric hospitalizations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2023061881
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2024


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