Twelve-month service use, suicidality and mental health problems of European adolescents after a school-based screening for current suicidality

Michael Kaess, N. Schnyder, C. Michel, R. Brunner, V. Carli, M. Sarchiapone, C. W. Hoven, C. Wasserman, A. Apter, J. Balazs, J. Bobes, D. Cosman, C. Haring, J. P. Kahn, H. Keeley, A. Kereszteny, T. Podlogar, V. Postuvan, A. Varnik, F. ReschD. Wasserman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in adolescents and help-seeking behaviour for suicidal behaviour is low. School-based screenings can identify adolescents at risk for suicidal behaviour and might have the potential to facilitate service use and reduce suicidal behaviour. The aim of this study was to assess associations of a two-stage school-based screening with service use and suicidality in adolescents (aged 15 ± 0.9 years) from 11 European countries after one year. Students participating in the ‘Saving and Empowering Young Lives in Europe’ (SEYLE) study completed a self-report questionnaire including items on suicidal behaviour. Those screening positive for current suicidality (first screening stage) were invited to an interview with a mental health professional (second stage) who referred them for treatment, if necessary. At 12-month follow-up, students completed the same self-report questionnaire including questions on service use within the past year. Of the N = 12,395 SEYLE participants, 516 (4.2%) screened positive for current suicidality and were invited to the interview. Of these, 362 completed the 12-month follow-up with 136 (37.6%) self-selecting to attend the interview (screening completers). The majority of both screening completers (81.9%) and non-completers (91.6%) had not received professional treatment within one year, with completers being slightly more likely to receive it (χ2(1) = 8.948, V = 0.157, p ≤ 0.01). Screening completion was associated with higher service use (OR 2.695, se 1.017, p ≤ 0.01) and lower suicidality at follow-up (OR 0.505, se 0.114, p ≤ 0.01) after controlling for potential confounders. This school-based screening offered limited evidence for the improvement of service use for suicidality. Similar future programmes might improve interview attendance rate and address adolescents’ barriers to care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-238
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Adolescents
  • Help-seeking
  • Screening
  • Suicidal behaviour
  • Suicide


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