The US National Institute of Mental Health is outfitting a network of hospital emergency departments across the country with “a personalized, computer-based suicide risk screening tool” for teenagers. “We plan to refine algorithms capable of predicting which youth are most likely to attempt suicide,” stated lead developer Cheryl King of the University of Michigan in an NIMH press release.
In phase one of the project, over 6,000 adolescents will be screened, then followed-up with, and the resulting information “will be used to develop a computerized adaptive screen (CAS) for predicting suicide attempts that adjusts its line of questioning depending on responses to previous questions,” stated the press release.
The rates of sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value of the CAS will then be compared with another standardized youth suicide screening tool. Next, a second phase “will validate the CAS and associated risk stratification algorithm, determining the measure’s ability to predict suicide attempts in a new sample.” This will produce “an easy-to-administer screening instrument that classifies youth as high, moderate or low-risk, enabling efficient triaging of resources and identification of modifiable risk factors for treatment.”
The press release stated that this computer-based algorithmic psychological assessment approach towards teens in emergency rooms will be “a tool that can save lives.”
ER Screen Will ID Troubled Teens – Aimed to Help Front-line Clinicians Save Lives (US National Institute of Mental Health Science Update, September 23, 2014)
MIA Editor’s Note: An MIA investigative report available here found that the highest rated mental health and suicide screening tests typically incorrectly identify hundreds of children in every thousand as being at high risk for mental disorders and suicide.