Better Suicide Prevention is a Must for High Risk People

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According to scientists, suicide prevention is not providing enough intervention required for people who are at high risk. This is discussed in the journal PLoS Medicine and calls for different interventions for “secondary suicide prevention.”

Primary suicide prevention aims to bring about awareness and resources and attempts to reduce the number of new cases of suicide in the population and tertiary prevention attempts to diminish clusters of suicides in an area. This is known as suicide contagion however, secondary suicide prevention, aims to decrease the likelihood of suicide attempts in high-risk patients.

These high risk people are those who have mental illnesses. 90% of all suicides are associated mental illness and is a group of people that are not being targeted in suicide prevention. Leo Sher of Columbia University and colleagues converse about the growing research field that aims to help prevent suicide in the people who are most at risk.

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Suicide poses a major threat to public health worldwide, accounting for 877,000 deaths worldwide in 2002. In the US alone, 90 people take their own lives, and 2,300 try to take their own lives.

The authors argue that physicians need to be taught about the association between mental disorders and suicide and should not hesitate to ask people about their thoughts of suicide, as patients will often talk frankly given the opportunity. They suggest outlining both the clinical evaluations and biological markers of suicide,

The authors further discuss the newest research on five secondary suicide prevention methods: antidepressants; the combination of therapy and drugs; “followup care” to maintain adherence to antidepressants and other therapies; legal restrictions to reduce access to particular means of suicide (such as firearms or pesticides); and responsible reporting of suicide cases in the media.

There are still many gaps in research, say the authors, who say that much more research news to be done on new approaches for the prevention and treatment of suicidal behavior.

“Looking to the future, thorough evaluations and appropriate treatments of patients with depressive disorders and other psychiatric illnesses should help to improve the efficacy of secondary prevention of suicide,” they conclude.

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