CHA News Article

Study Finds Post-ED Suicide Prevention Strategies Are Cost-Effective

A new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found several post-emergency department interventions were more effective and less costly than usual care. The study modelled the use of three approaches in emergency departments:

  • Written materials: Hospital staff mail follow-up written materials each month for four months to all patients identified as at risk, and then every other month for a total of eight cards.
  • Telephone outreach: One to three months after discharge, hospital staff call patients to offer support and encourage engagement in follow-up treatment.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Hospital staff connect patients to a suicide-focused cognitive behavioral therapy program.

According to NIH, all three interventions compare favorably with a standard benchmark of cost-effectiveness used in evaluating health care costs.

In addition, each of the interventions has been tested via randomized controlled trials and found to reduce patients’ suicide risk by 30 to 50 percent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Emergency departments treat more than 500,000 people each year for self-harm injuries. 

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