The Joint Commission Issues Quick Safety Advisory on Using Validated Tools for Suicide Risk Screening
(OAKBROOK TERRACE, Illinois, March 30, 2023) – Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly 46,000 people died by suicide in 2020, which is one death every 11 minutes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1 A suicide risk screening is intended to help identify individuals at risk for suicide who may require further assessment and steps to protect them from attempting suicide.
A new Quick Safety advisory from The Joint Commission, “Using validated tools for suicide risk screening,” provides guidance to help healthcare organizations ensure the validated tool(s) selected for their suicide risk screening is used appropriately and accurately in order to yield the intended results. Once an individual screens positive, the use of an evidence-based assessment process or tool in conjunction with clinical evaluation is effective in determining overall risk for suicide.
Healthcare organizations should take actions to ensure that clinical staff who conduct suicide screenings are trained and competent to do so. Safety actions outlined in the Quick Safety include:
- Ensure the validated screening tool selected has clear instructions for use and is implemented and completed as directed by the creators of the tool.
- Conduct training and competence assessments to ensure clinical staff who conduct suicide screenings understand how to use the tool appropriately, follow the intent of the tool and know the actions to take based on the results of the tool.
- Ensure training includes how the tool is used as part of the overall suicide risk assessment and mitigation processes.
The Joint Commission requires hospitals and critical access hospitals to screen all patients who are being evaluated and treated for a behavioral health condition as a primary reason for care for suicidal ideation using a validated screening tool. It also requires behavioral healthcare and human services (BHC) organizations to screen all individuals served for suicidal ideation using a validated screening tool.
The full Quick Safety advisory is available on The Joint Commission website. It may be reproduced if credited to The Joint Commission.
1CDC. CDC WONDER: Underlying cause of death, 1999–2019. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2020. https://wonder.cdc.gov/Deaths-by-Underlying-Cause.html
About The Joint Commission
Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve healthcare for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating healthcare organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 22,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in healthcare. Learn more about The Joint Commission at www.jointcommission.org.