School-Based Suicide Risk Assessment Using eHealth: A Scoping Review

Exner-Cortens, Deinera M | $43,774

Alberta The University of Calgary 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Canadian youth. In the context of COVID-19, suicide risk among youth is likely further elevated due to social isolation and associated mental health impacts. Thus, this project will explore school-based suicide risk assessment with youth via eHealth in the context of COVID-19. Given their frequent access to and relationships with most youth, schools play a key role in suicide prevention. For example, school personnel can provide suicide risk assessments so that students can be appropriately referred to community-based intervention. However, training for school personnel on how to assess for risk in an effective, standardized way is lacking. In response, a multi-sectoral team in Alberta developed a School-Based Suicidal Ideation Response Protocol (the SI Protocol), which provides standardized response patterns for school personnel. The protocol is now implemented in over 100 schools in 3 divisions, and preliminary evaluation data suggest that the protocol increases sensitivity and specificity of response, and increases school personnel comfort and preparedness to assess for suicidal ideation. However, because schools across the province are now closed due to COVID-19, school personnel need to connect with students – and implement the SI Protocol – using remote technologies. As a result, our school partners have expressed a need for timely information on how to e-deliver the SI Protocol. To fill this evidence gap, this project will use a systematic scoping review to explore promising practices for conducting school-based suicide risk assessment with youth via eHealth. This proposal will address a critical gap in the provision of targeted intervention to support the mental health of youth in the context of COVID-19. As remote delivery is also likely needed in many other jurisdictions globally, findings from this review have the potential for broad impact on school-based mental health service delivery.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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