During 1997, one of Boston's fifteen neighborhoods experienced a significantly high number of teen suicides. In their efforts to understand this epidemic, local public health officials soon realized that existing surveillance data, consisting primarily of mortality data, was fairly limited in describing Boston's overall suicide experience.
Motivated by the immediate need to gain a better understanding of suicide attempts among all of Boston's resident youths, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) established the Boston Emergency Department Surveillance System (BEDSS) by modifying and expanding a privately funded intentional injury surveillance system to include suicide attempts, alcohol and drug overdoses, and sexual assaults.
During the past two years, BPHC staff worked with medical staff at the four hospitals handling an estimated 95% of the city's pediatric suicide attempts that require emergency room care, redesigning system protocols and tools in order to firmly establish a sensitive and reliable surveillance system.
Today, BEDSS collects information describing circumstances related to the suicide attempt (e.g., method used) as well as patient demographic information including age, gender, and census tract, from each of the four sites on a monthly basis. These data are used routinely to inform the Mayor of Boston, public health policy makers and other health officials as interventions are being designed and implemented. In particular, planners are able to map areas within the city that experience a relatively high incidence rate then better target local interventions. In the future, BEDSS data will likely play a vital role in evaluating the effectiveness of these.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant in this session will be able to: 1. Confidently design a workable model for developing a local pediatric emergency department suicide attempt surveillance system. 2. Recognize many of the pitfalls and limitations of collecting suicide surveillance data. 3. Navigate many of the systematic obstacles inherent to surveillance system implementation. 4. Implement methods of improving suicide attempt surveillance data quality and sensitivity. 5. Explore avenues for completing the suicide surveillance picture. 6. Identify possible interventions dependent on direct use of the suicide attempt surveillance data
Keywords: Suicide, Surveillance
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: In addition to The Boston Public Health Commission's role, the Boston Emergency Department Surveillance System has four participating hospital sites: -Boston Medical Center -Children's Hospital -New England Medical Center
I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
Relationship: The Boston Public Health Commission (employer)
The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA