The Columbia SuicideScreen: Validity and reliability of a screen for youth suicide and depression

David Shaffer, Michelle Scott, Holly Wilcox, Carey Maslow, Roger Hicks, Christopher P. Lucas, Robin Garfinkel, Steven Greenwald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


Objective: This study reports on the psychometric properties of a brief, self-administered screening questionnaire, the Columbia SuicideScreen® (CSS), intended to identify high school students at risk for suicide. Method: Seventeen hundred twenty-nine 9th- to 12th-grade students completed the CSS and Beck Depression Inventory during school hours in 1991 to 1994. Three hundred fifty-six students who screened positively and 285, group matched on age, gender, and ethnicity, who screened negatively were examined on the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC), version 2.3, to assess validity. The DISC-based suicide risk criterion was suicidal ideation or prior suicide attempt and a DSM-III-R diagnosis of major depression or dysthymia or substance use. Test-retest reliability was assessed in a subsample of 85. Results: The most balanced algorithm had a sensitivity of 0.75, specificity 0.83, and positive predictive value 16%. Suicidal ideation and prior attempt item reliabilities (K) were 0.48 and 0.58, respectively. Eight-day test-retest reliability for the most balanced scoring algorithm was 0.32. Conclusions: The CSS demonstrated good sensitivity and reasonable specificity identifying students at risk for suicide. A second-stage evaluation would be needed to reduce the burden of low specificity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-79
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


  • Adolescents
  • Depression
  • Identification
  • Psychometrics
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'The Columbia SuicideScreen: Validity and reliability of a screen for youth suicide and depression'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this