Researchers have developed a personalized system to better detect young people at risk of suicide.

The suicide rate among American adolescents has risen drastically over the last decade, but many at-risk youths don’t receive the mental health services they need. In fact, identifying the young people who need the most help poses one of the greatest challenges.

“Too many young people are dying by suicide and many at high risk go completely unrecognized and untreated,” says Cheryl King, a professor, clinical child psychologist, and director of the Youth and Young Adult Depression and Suicide Prevention Research Program in the psychiatry department at Michigan Medicine and lead author of the paper, published in JAMA Psychiatry.

“About half of the youth who die by suicide have never received any mental health services and some die on their first suicide attempt. We saw an urgent need to improve proactive, universal suicide screening of young people.”

The screening tool, called the Computerized Adaptive Screen for Suicidal Youth, or CASSY, is designed to be used in emergency rooms through a brief and efficient system that doesn’t disrupt care. When an adolescent or teen is admitted for any reason—whether it’s a psychiatric complaint or something unrelated like a sports injury—they complete a questionnaire on a digital device.

The teen’s answers form the basis for follow-up questions and the number of questions so that the screening is tailored to the individual patient.

The screening asks teens about suicidal thoughts but also other factors that may put them at risk, such as sleep disturbance, trouble concentrating, agitation, depression and hopelessness, and issues with family and school connectedness. The combination of risk factors determines a score for their suicidal risk level.

Read the full article about suicide risk screening tool by Beata Mostafavi at Futurity.