Influential panel raises doubts on youth suicide screening | Health & Fitness

An influential US group is raising questions about routine suicide screening for children and adolescents, even as others call for urgent attention to young people’s mental health.

In draft guidance released Tuesday, the US Preventive Services Task Force said there isn’t enough evidence to recommend routine screening for children who don’t show overt signs of suicidality. The document is open for public comment until May 9, and opposition voices are already giving their opinion.

Many experts agree with the group’s assessment that more research is urgently needed, but argue there is no evidence that screening — asking children if they have ever considered or attempted suicide — can cause harm.

“In the meantime, what are you going to do about this mental health crisis? You can’t turn a blind eye,” said psychologist Lisa Horowitz of the National Institute of Mental Health.

The task force is an independent group of physicians and other experts that creates guidelines for preventive services in primary care settings, based on a review of research. The group’s final recommendations often reflect its draft guidance. Insurance coverage decisions are often based on their advice.

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The draft guidance addresses screening in pediatricians’ offices and similar settings for children up to 18 years of age.

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