Pilot Mixed Methods Evaluation of the Barriers and Facilitators to Suicide Prevention in Juvenile Detention
Death by suicide is a major public health concern, particularly among 10-25-year-olds. Vulnerable youth who enter the juvenile justice (JJ) system are four times more likely to engage in suicidal behaviors than their peers. The Zero Suicide model and suicide prevention guidelines for JJ recommend suicide prevention in juvenile detention include ongoing evidence-based suicide risk screening and triaging to appropriate pathways of care. The Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale, Clinical Practice Screener, is ideally suited for use in this model because it is an evidence-based suicide screen that is feasible and acceptable among staff in justice settings. Triaging in juvenile detention includes ensuring safe housing (e.g., rooms without anchoring devices), level of observation (e.g., one-on-one) and referral to behavioral health care (e.g., immediate crisis stabilization). However, there are no systematic implementation efforts to support detention center staff engaging in the lifesaving work of screening for suicide risk and triaging vulnerable youth to appropriate and safe pathways of care. A pilot mixed methods study of suicide prevention efforts in the Chester County Juvenile Detention Center is proposed. This will allow for identification of key barriers and facilitators to suicide prevention and demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed research method. The pilot data will support a five-year NIMH K23 application and an R34 to NIMH’s FOA for research regarding youth at risk for suicide in juvenile justice settings. The goal is for this work to inform JJ policy and practice to save the lives of our country’s most vulnerable youth.