Using data from a nationwide project on young people in Australia aimed at assessing suicidality in general health settings, we present a brief screening tool for suicidality (the depressive symptom index suicidality subscale). Two thousand eight hundred and fifty-one (15-24 year old) patients presenting to 247 Australian general practitioners between 1996 and 1998 were assessed. In addition to the suicide screen, patients completed the general health questionnaire-12 and the Center for Epidemiological Studies depression scale. Patients' chief complaints were taken from the summary sheets completed by their general practitioners. Using inter-item correlational and factor-analytic techniques, as well as a general approach to construct validity, we show that the measure has favorable reliability and validity characteristics. We also provide results on cut-points that may facilitate its use in clinical and research settings. Because the screen is brief, easy to use, reliable, and valid, we encourage its use to combat the vexing international health problem of suicide. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.