Emergency Department Visits Related to Suicidal Ideation

HCUP Statistical Brief, No. 220

Suicide is a major public health concern that causes immeasurable pain and suffering to individuals, families, and communities nationwide. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death overall and the second leading cause among Americans aged 10-44 years. In 2014, the suicide rate reached a 30-year high, accounting for nearly 43,000 deaths.

Suicide is preventable, however. Suicidal thoughts or actions are signs of extreme distress, and require intervention. Emergency departments (EDs) have been identified as an important site of care to identify individuals at risk, provide timely support and intervention, and to facilitate entry into more intensive treatment, if appropriate.

Emergency Department Visits Related to Suicidal Ideation, a statistical brief from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, presents information on ED visits related to suicidal ideation among adults aged 18 years or older in 2006, 2010, and 2013. Trends in the population-based rate of ED visits related to suicidal ideation are presented overall and by patient and hospital, characteristics. Trends in the number of admissions to the same hospital are examined over time, as well as the cost and length of these inpatient stays. ED visits related to suicidal ideation are then compared with all other adult ED visits in 2013, including overall visits, and by patient characteristics, expected payer, and disposition status.

Highlights:

  • From 2006 to 2013, the rate of ED visits related to suicidal ideation among adults increased by 12 percent on average annually. By 2013, 1 percent of all adult ED visits involved suicidal ideation.
  • In 2013, compared with other ED visits, those related to suicidal ideation were more likely to be among patients who were male, aged 18-64 years and uninsured or covered by Medicaid.
  • In 2013, most suicidal ideation-related ED visits were admitted to the same hospital or transferred to another facility (72 percent).
  • Among admissions to the same hospital, the average length of inpatient stay increased from 5.1 to 5.6 days from 2006 to 2013, and aggregate costs increased four-fold (from $600 million to $2.2 billion).
  • Among suicidal ideation-related ED visits, 12 percent of patients had a co-occurring injury. Injuries were more common among females than among males.
  • Three-quarters of ED visits with suicidal ideation had an associated diagnosis of mood disorders, 43 percent had a substance-related disorder, and 30 percent had an alcohol-related disorder.

Select to access Emergency Department Visits Related to Suicidal Ideation.

Page last reviewed February 2017
Page originally created October 2016
Internet Citation: Emergency Department Visits Related to Suicidal Ideation. Content last reviewed February 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/hcup2.html