CARF adds screening for suicide risk to its assessment standards

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Suicide risk screening requirement added to 2019 Behavioral Health and Opioid Treatment Program Standards Manuals.

Data show that a large number of people who die by suicide had prior contact with the behavioral healthcare system. As part of a society-wide suicide intervention and prevention strategy, the need for evidence-based universal screening within behavioral healthcare settings is clear.

CARF International has long published standards that help healthcare providers address the needs of people at risk for suicide. However, in response to feedback from its stakeholders, and to recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of rising suicide rates, CARF has over the past four years reinforced its published best practices for suicide prevention and intervention.

The addition of suicide risk screening to CARF’s 2019 standards follows the 2018 addition of Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Program standards, the 2017 publication of a suicide prevention standards manual supplement, and the 2016 publication of the Quality Practice Notice on Suicide Prevention. 

The new 2019 assessment standard requires programs accredited under CARF’s Behavioral Health and Opioid Treatment Program Standards Manuals to conduct suicide risk screening for all persons served ages 12 and older. The new standard calls for a standardized tool be used that is normed for the population served. Example tools include the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale, SAFE-T screener, and ASQ.

Since 2010, CARF has maintained a seat on the executive committee of the Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, a public-private partnership working toward initiatives of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. CARF supports and encourages vigilance regarding this serious public health issue and the development of intervention systems to care for persons and families struggling with suicide.

For more information about CARF’s new suicide risk screening requirement, the Action Alliance’s National Strategy, or CARF’s leadership in spreading best practices for suicide prevention, please contact Michael Johnson, CARF’s Managing Director for Behavioral Health.

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