The following article is part of coverage from the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Annual Meeting (NAPNAP 2020). Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Association made the necessary decision to cancel their meeting originally scheduled for March 25-28, 2020, in Long Beach, CA, and rescheduled the event to a virtual meeting held June 4-5, 2020. Readers can click here to catch up on the latest research intended to be presented at the meeting.

Implementation of a suicide prevention program by harnessing the power of community organizations and using the Columbia Protocol as a screening device may help to reduce the rate of suicides among black youths, according to Geeta Maharaj, DNP, APRN, CPNP, of Middle Tennessee State University, during a virtual presentation at the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Annual Meeting (NAPNAP 2020).

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among black youth and the suicide rate of black children aged 5 to 12 years have increased at twice the rate of their white counterparts, the report stated. Black individuals at risk for suicide, however, often “do not have access to primary or mental health care.  Minority youths are  less likely to receive treatment with psychotherapy, psychotropic medications, and also are less likely to be referred to a specialist than non-minority youth,” she reported.

Dr Maharaj  reviewed PubMed, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and PsycINFO to identify articles with keywords including African American adolescents suicide, adolescent suicide, suicide screen, and Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS), a 6-item questionnaire that asked questions related to suicide intention.

Four studies were identified from the search and demonstrated that implementation of the C-SSRS reduced the risk of suicide in those aged 12 to 18 years. The C-SSRS also outlines steps to train gatekeepers to implement the program in community centers and schools; these steps include education about suicide/mental health, knowledge of risk factors, risk assessment, and referral to treatment.

“A community program that allows gatekeepers to use the Columbia Protocol in various settings could help at-risk youth receive the treatment they need,” concluded the author.

Visit Clinical Advisor’s conference section for complete coverage of NAPNAP 2020.


Maharaj G. Using the Columbia Protocol to address the increasing suicide rate in African American adolescents. Presented virtually at: NAPNAP 2020; June 4-5, 2020. Abstract TH19.