Coping with suicidal urges among youth seen in a psychiatric emergency department

Ewa K. Czyz*, Adam G. Horwitz, Alejandra Arango, Yasmin Cole-Lewis, Johnny Berona, Cheryl A. King

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


This study of youth seeking psychiatric emergency department (ED) services examined (1) youth self-efficacy to use suicide-specific coping strategies, (2) whether these self-efficacy beliefs varied by demographic and clinical characteristics, (3) and associations of these beliefs with suicide attempts and ED visits 3–5 months later. Participants were 286 psychiatric ED patients (59% Female), ages 13–25. Ratings of self-efficacy to engage in 10 suicide-specific coping behaviors were assessed at index visit. A total of 226 participants (79%) were assessed 3–5 months later. Youth endorsed low-to-moderate self-efficacy for different suicide-specific coping behaviors, with lowest ratings endorsed for limiting access to lethal means and accessing professional resources. More severe baseline psychopathology was associated with lower self-efficacy. Males endorsed higher self-efficacy for coping behaviors not requiring external support. Lower coping self-efficacy for some of the key strategies, and lower confidence that these strategies will be helpful, differentiated those with and without follow-up suicide attempts and ED visits. The generally low-to-moderate confidence in youths’ ability to engage in coping behaviors to manage suicidal crises, and its association with follow-up suicidal crises, is concerning because many of these strategies are commonly included as part of discharge recommendations or safety planning. Implications of findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-181
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Coping
  • Emergency department
  • Safety planning
  • Self-efficacy
  • Suicide attempt
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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