Identifying suicide risk among young people is a critical component of the comprehensive approach that the juvenile justice system must adopt to prevent suicide. Ideally, this identification is done with research-based screening and assessment instruments. To select effective instruments, it is necessary to be aware of:

  • the juvenile justice system’s responsibilities in preventing suicide,
  • the contexts in which screening and assessment instruments are used,
  • current standards for screening instruments and assessment tools used in mental health and juvenile justice settings, and
  • specific instruments that are available to advance suicide prevention efforts.

These facets of suicide prevention are explored in this paper, which was developed by the Youth in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. The paper was prepared by members of the task force’s Suicide Research Workgroup, which was charged with identifying gaps in literature and in research on suicide and its prevention among youth in contact with the juvenile justice system.

The National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice (NCYOJ) originally maintained this resource. The NCYOJ was operated by Policy Research, Inc. and operated from 2001 to 2022 and was formerly known as the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. The NCYOJ improved life opportunities for youth through systems and practice improvement initiatives.

This resource should be viewed as a reference document. It has not been updated since its publication. In addition, this document has not been made 508 compliant. If you would like a 508 compliant version of this document, please email

This resource was first shared in 2013.

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