"...being exposed to suicide questions in the first survey did not exacerbate distress or suicidal ideation among depressed students. On the contrary, the direction of the significant depression by randomization group interactions on the POMS-A2 indicated that among depressed youth, the experimental group had slightly lower distress scores than the control group."Gould, M.S., Marrocco, F.A., Kleinman, M., Thomas, J.G., Mostkoff, K., Cote, J., & Davies, M. (2005). Evaluating Iatrogenic Risk of Youth Suicide Screening Programs: A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA, 293(13), 1635-1643.
Over 2,000 New York high school students were screened for depression, substance use and suicidal thoughts. Many fear that asking about suicidal thoughts may be harmful or distressing to youth. In fact, it turned out that depressed students who were asked about suicidal thoughts were less distressed than depressed students who were not asked about it in the screening survey.
We are so afraid to ask and yet, the consequences of asking are not greater distress but more than likely relief that someone finally cared enough to ask.
Ask and Listen.