1. Ask adolescents about mood disorders, use of drugs and alcohol, suicidal thoughts, bullying, sexual orientation and other risk factors associated with suicide via routine history-taking. Consider using a depression screening instrument at 11- to 21-year-old health maintenance visits and as needed.
2. Educate yourself and your patients about the benefits and risks of antidepressants.
3. Recognize the medical and psychiatric needs of the suicidal teen, and work closely with families and other health care professionals in the management and follow-up of those who are at risk or have attempted suicide. Develop working relationships with colleagues in the community. Ensure good communication, continuity and follow-up through the medical home.
4. Become familiar with local, state and national resources related to suicide prevention in youths.
5. Consider additional training in diagnosing and managing adolescent mood disorders, especially if practicing in an area underserved by mental health professionals.
6. During routine evaluations, ask whether firearms are kept in the home and discuss with parents the increased risk of adolescent suicide with the presence of firearms. For teens at risk of suicide, advise parents to remove guns and ammunition from the house, and secure supplies of prescription and over-the-counter medications.