Youth Suicide Prevention

Pediatric Health Clinicians & Other Adults Who Work with Youth Can Make a Difference

Explore resources and information to help decrease pediatric suicide and effectively work with families and communities on this rising issue.

Why Suicide Screenings, Assessments, &  Referrals Matter


of youths >14 years had contact with a healthcare provider in the week before their death.


of adolescents had contact with a healthcare system within the 4 weeks before their death.


of youth had visited an emergency department (ED) within the year before their death.


of adolescents visited a healthcare provider within the year before their death.

Why Suicide Screenings Matter

It is safe to ask youth if they are thinking about suicide!

According to the AAP, it is a common myth that asking will “put the idea into their heads.”

Children and Teens at Risk

Illinois Children & Teens Are At Risk


Suicide rates are increasing, especially among children aged 10 to 14 years old


In Illinois, 8.4% of high school students attempted suicide

Illinois Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 2021

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk and Protective Factors for Suicide in Young Children & Teens

Suicide Risk Factors

Suicide is generally caused by multiple factors or events.  Some of these factors are individual or due to relationships and others are due to community or societal factors. Risk factors include:

Suicide Protective Factors

Just like with suicide risk factors, protective factors are due to individual, relationship, community, or societal factors. Suicide protective factors include:

Warning Signs

Know The Warning Signs & Save a Life

Common warning signs for increased risk of suicide & suicide ideation include:

  • Talk about killing oneself
  • Talk about feeling like a burden
  • Talk about feeling hopeless
  • Talk about having no reason to live
  • Talk about feeling trapped
  • Talk about unbearable pain
  • Changes in mood
  • Increased anger or rage
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Increased substance use
  • Withdrawal from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Giving away possessions
  • Making suicide plans
  • Trying to gain access to lethal means

Evidence-Based & Publicly Available Assessment Tools

Use these assessment tools after a patient has a positive screening. Some tools have trainings available online (see ASQ BSSA and C-SSRS). See NIMH ASQ toolkit for more details on administering the brief suicide safety assessment.

Important Note

Important Note: If a patient has a positive screen and shows they are at imminent risk for suicide, they do NOT need a brief suicide safety assessment.  They need an EMERGENT Full Mental Health and Safety Evaluation.  The brief suicide safety assessment is a triage tool for patients who screen positive (non-acute/non-imminent) to determine the next steps.

After Assessment – Determine the Next Steps:


Patients at Imminent Risk need an Emergent Mental Health Evaluation
Caring for Patients and Imminent Risk of Suicide

Patients not at imminent risk, require further evaluation.
Caring for Patients Who Need Further Medical Mental Health Evaluation

Patients at low risk, should be given resources and a mental health referral.
Caring for Patients at Low Risk of Suicide

What to Do When Community Resources are Lacking:

  • Consider telehealth services
  • School-based behavioral health services
  • Follow-up appointments with the pediatrician until mental health services can be arranged
  • Safety planning and lethal means safety counseling
  • Pediatric health clinicians can consider working with Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Programs (PMHCA) also called Child Psychiatry Access Programs (CPAP). These are collaborative programs that provide training and support to primary care providers related to addressing mental health conditions in practice.
Important Note

In Illinois, this program is Illinois DocAssist

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Use Your Social Platforms for Suicide Prevention Week

This year, Suicide Prevention Week falls between September 10 and September 16, 2023. We encourage all health care providers who work with children and teens to share out these social media graphics that include important facts, statistics, and what to do if children and teens are experiencing thoughts of suicide. Together, we can help spread awareness and protect our youth.

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Additional Resources for Suicide Screening, Assessment, & Referrals

Additional Suicide Prevention Resources
Pediatrics Blueprint Icon

The American Academy of Pediatrics Blueprint for Youth Suicide Prevention

The AAP has put together a Blueprint for Youth Suicide Prevention, which is designed to support pediatric health clinicians in advancing equitable youth suicide prevention strategies in all settings where youth live, learn, work, and spend time.  It was created following the 2021 AAP and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists and Children’s Hospital Association's joint declaration of a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health.

The Blueprint includes: Strategies for Clinical Settings for Youth Suicide Prevention as well as information about addressing disparities and systemic inequities in youth suicide and mental health.

Universal Suicide Risk Screening
Helps Support Equity in Suicide Prevention Efforts!

Universal Suicide Risk Screening

Source: NIMH ASQ Toolkit