Self-Reported Recent Life Stressors and Risk of Suicide in Pediatric Emergency Department Patients

Ian H. Stanley, Deborah J. Snyder, Sarah Westen, Elizabeth D. Ballard, Stephen J. Teach, Suad Kapetanovic, Elizabeth A. Wharff, Jeffrey A. Bridge, Katherine Ginnis, Maryland Pao, Lisa M. Horowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Emergency departments (EDs) are important venues for detecting youth at risk for suicide. Children and adolescents who present to the ED and report a recent life stressor, such as stressors related to interpersonal relationships, may be at elevated risk for suicide. Using data from 3 large, urban pediatric EDs, we examined the relationship between reported recent life stressors and suicide risk, as measured by the Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire. Overall, youth who reported a recent life stressor were at elevated risk for suicide. Importantly, however, this finding was tempered by the fact that 20% of youth who screened positive for suicide risk did not report a stressor. Thus, although the knowledge of stressors may provide useful supplementary information to a suicide risk assessment, the presence or absence of a reported stressor is not sufficient to determine one's risk of suicide. ED clinicians are advised to include direct questions about suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-40
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Emergency department
  • Recent life stressor
  • Suicide risk
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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