Preventing Suicide in Emergency Departments is a free, self-paced, online course for health care professionals. 

Why take the ED course?

Preventing Suicide in Emergency Departments is designed for emergency department settings. 

Emergency departments (EDs) play an important role in suicide prevention. This course teaches healthcare professionals who work in an ED how to conduct screening, assessment, and brief interventions, such as safety planning and lethal means counseling. It also addresses patient-centered care for patients with suicide risk, patient safety during the ED visit, and incorporating suicide prevention into discharge planning

Professionals walking down hospital hallway

Course Description


After completing this course you will be able to:

  • Describe the roles primary and secondary screening play in detection and prevention of suicide risk behaviors among ED patients.
  • List the core components of suicide risk assessment.
  • Identify steps that can be taken to ensure patients at risk for suicide remain safe during their time in the ED.
  • Describe five brief interventions that can be used with low-risk ED patients who are being discharged.
  • Explain how a discharge planning checklist can be used to promote continuity of care.
  • List three examples of patient-centered care techniques that can be used with patients at risk for suicide that can improve the quality of their visits.

Course Length

This course can be completed in approximately two hours. You do not have to complete the course in one session. You can exit the course at any time and return later to the place where you left off.


This course is open to anyone. It is designed especially for healthcare professionals (e.g., physicians, nurses, behavioral health providers) who work in EDs with patients at risk of suicide.

While this course was developed for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and contains some data from Massachusetts, the course material is applicable to professionals anywhere.


The Massachusetts Department of Public Health engaged the Suicide Prevention Resource Center to develop this course on its behalf in recognition of the need for healthcare professionals who work in an ED to use best practices in addressing this public health issue.

Certificate of Completion

To receive a certificate of completion, you must do the following online: complete each lesson, pass the posttest (passing score is 80% or higher), and answer the feedback survey questions.

You can earn a certificate of completion once per year for each course. We do not offer continuing education credits for any of our courses.