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Assessment tools of immediate risk of self-harm and suicide in children and young people: a scoping review

Carter, Tim; Walker, Gemma M.; Aubeeluck, Aimee; Manning, Joseph C.

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Gemma M. Walker

Aimee Aubeeluck

Joseph C. Manning


There are increasing numbers of children presenting to paediatric hospital settings in mental health crisis. Typically, non-mental health professionals are responsible for the initial assessment of these children and are required to identify immediate physical and emotional health needs. To ensure the safety of these children, immediate risk of suicide and self-harm should be assessed. However, no standardized assessment tool is used in clinical practice, and for those tools that are used, their validity and reliability is unclear. A scoping review was conducted to identify the existing assessment tools of immediate self-harm and suicide risk. Searches of electronic databases and relevant reference lists were undertaken. Twenty-two tools were identified and most assessed acute risk of suicide with only four tools incorporating a self-harm assessment. The tools varied in number of items (4?146), subscales (0?11) and total scores (16?192). Half incorporated Likert-type scales, and most were completed via self-report. Many tools were subject to limited psychometric testing, and no single tool was valid or reliable for use with children presenting in mental health crisis to non-mental health settings. As such, a clinically appropriate, valid and reliable tool that assesses immediate risk of self-harm and suicide in paediatric settings should be developed.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 1, 2018
Online Publication Date Jul 29, 2018
Publication Date Jul 29, 2018
Deposit Date Aug 29, 2018
Publicly Available Date Sep 24, 2018
Journal J Child Health Care
Print ISSN 1367-4935
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Children and young people, risk assessment, scoping review, self-harm, suicide
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