Objective: In current practice, treatment as usual (TAU) for suicidal adolescents includes evaluation, with little or no intervention provided in the emergency department (ED), and disposition, usually to an inpatient psychiatry unit. The family-based crisis intervention (FBCI) is an emergency psychiatry intervention designed to sufficiently stabilize suicidal adolescents within a single ED visit so that they may return home safely with their families. The objective of this article is to report efficacy outcomes related to FBCI for suicidal adolescents and their families.
Methods: A total of 142 suicidal adolescents (age, 13-18 years) and their families presenting for psychiatric evaluation to a large pediatric ED were randomized to receive FBCI or TAU. Patients and caregivers completed self-report measures of suicidality, family empowerment, and satisfaction with care provided at pretest, posttest, and 3 follow-up time points over a 1-month period.
Results: Patients randomized to FBCI were significantly more likely to be discharged home with outpatient follow-up care compared with their TAU counterparts (P < 0.001). Families randomized to the FBCI condition reported significantly higher levels of family empowerment and client satisfaction with care at posttest compared with their TAU counterparts. Gains were maintained over the follow-up period. No completed suicides were reported during the study period in either condition.
Conclusions: Family-based crisis intervention is a model of care for suicidal adolescents that may be a viable alternative to traditional ED care that involves inpatient psychiatric hospitalization.