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An Evidence-Based Approach to Suicide Risk Assessment After Sexual Assault

Cochran, Courtney B., DNP, MSN, RN

doi: 10.1097/JFN.0000000000000241
Original Articles

ABSTRACT Sexual violence occurs in all gender, socioeconomic, religious, and ethnic groups. The trauma of sexual violence negatively affects both a person's physical and mental health. Individuals often experience suicidal ideations in the aftermath of a sexually violent event. On the basis of an understanding of the causative relationship between sexual violence and increased suicidality, a quality improvement study was developed to enhance the direct nursing care provided to clients at the time of the forensic examination and the aftercare provided to clients after discharge at a single-site sexual assault clinic. The study consisted of the implementation of three interventions including (a) use of an evidence-based suicide risk assessment tool, (b) establishment of a nursing protocol to standardize the community resource referral process, and (c) education of the clinic's nursing staff. These interventions provided the nursing staff with a standardized method to identify each client's suicide risk while also referring them to appropriate aftercare services in the local community. Results indicated that it was highly beneficial to screen all clients for suicide risk as it promoted client safety and acted as a catalyst for the emotional healing process.

Author Affiliation: College of Nursing & Health Sciences, Auburn University at Montgomery.

The author declares no conflict of interest.

Correspondence: Courtney B. Cochran, DNP, MSN, RN, College of Nursing & Health Sciences, Auburn University at Montgomery, P.O. Box 244023, Montgomery, AL 36124-4023. E-mail:

Received August 31, 2018; accepted for publication February 25, 2019.

Online date: April 12, 2019

© 2019 by the International Association of Forensic Nurses. All rights reserved.
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