(Psychiatric News) – Adolescents who have been hospitalized for suicidal behaviors may benefit from recurrent follow-up calls following hospital discharge, according to a report in Psychiatric Services.
Compared with adolescents receiving a single post-discharge call, adolescents receiving recurrent phone calls had a significantly lower rate of suicidal behavior and greater confidence in their suicide safety plan.
For the study, Manviel Rengasamy, M.D., a resident at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and Garrett Sparks, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at UPMC, randomly assigned 142 youth aged 12 to 18 who had been hospitalized for suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts to receive either a single telephone call intervention or an intervention involving up to six telephone calls over 90 days.
The telephone intervention consisted of a 10- to 20-minute phone call to participants and guardians from a member of the hospital’s child psychiatry house staff. In the call with guardians, staff reviewed parental concerns about suicidality and treatment follow-up. During the call with the adolescents, staff and adolescents assessed suicidality using the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale and reviewed the youth’s confidence in a safety plan (based on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s safety plan). They also reviewed short- and long-term goals and discussed reasons for living.
Adolescents in the recurrent-intervention group received calls at approximately 1, 7, 14, 30, 60, and 90 days post-discharge, whereas those in the single call-intervention group received one call at approximately 90 days post-discharge.
Overall, 16 participants (11%) exhibited suicidal behavior within the 90-day period: four participants were in the recurrent-intervention group and 12 were in the single-call group. The participants receiving recurrent calls reported higher average confidence in their safety plan (95.4%) compared with participants receiving a single call (73.6%).
“Given the urgent need for effective treatments to reduce adolescent suicides, cost-effective and telephone-based, post-discharge interventions should be evaluated in larger trial,” the researchers wrote.
For related information, see the American Journal of Psychiatry article “As Safe as Possible (ASAP): A Brief App-Supported Inpatient Intervention to Prevent Postdischarge Suicidal Behavior in Hospitalized, Suicidal Adolescents.”