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Abstract and Figures

In 2002, an estimated 877,000 lives were lost worldwide through suicide. Some developed nations have implemented national suicide prevention plans. Although these plans generally propose multiple interventions, their effectiveness is rarely evaluated. To examine evidence for the effectiveness of specific suicide-preventive interventions and to make recommendations for future prevention programs and research. Relevant publications were identified via electronic searches of MEDLINE, the Cochrane Library, and PsychINFO databases using multiple search terms related to suicide prevention. Studies, published between 1966 and June 2005, included those that evaluated preventative interventions in major domains; education and awareness for the general public and for professionals; screening tools for at-risk individuals; treatment of psychiatric disorders; restricting access to lethal means; and responsible media reporting of suicide. Data were extracted on primary outcomes of interest: suicidal behavior (completion, attempt, ideation), intermediary or secondary outcomes (treatment seeking, identification of at-risk individuals, antidepressant prescription/use rates, referrals), or both. Experts from 15 countries reviewed all studies. Included articles were those that reported on completed and attempted suicide and suicidal ideation; or, where applicable, intermediate outcomes, including help-seeking behavior, identification of at-risk individuals, entry into treatment, and antidepressant prescription rates. We included 3 major types of studies for which the research question was clearly defined: systematic reviews and meta-analyses (n = 10); quantitative studies, either randomized controlled trials (n = 18) or cohort studies (n = 24); and ecological, or population- based studies (n = 41). Heterogeneity of study populations and methodology did not permit formal meta-analysis; thus, a narrative synthesis is presented. Education of physicians and restricting access to lethal means were found to prevent suicide. Other methods including public education, screening programs, and media education need more testing. Physician education in depression recognition and treatment and restricting access to lethal methods reduce suicide rates. Other interventions need more evidence of efficacy. Ascertaining which components of suicide prevention programs are effective in reducing rates of suicide and suicide attempt is essential in order to optimize use of limited resources.
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Suicide Prevention Strategies
A Systematic Review
J. John Mann, MD
Alan Apter, MD
Jose Bertolote, MD
Annette Beautrais, PhD
Dianne Currier, PhD
Ann Haas, PhD
Ulrich Hegerl, MD
Jouko Lonnqvist, MD
Kevin Malone, MD
Andrej Marusic, MD, PhD
Lars Mehlum, MD
George Patton, MD
Michael Phillips, MD
Wolfgang Rutz, MD
Zoltan Rihmer, MD, PhD, DSc
Armin Schmidtke, MD, PhD
David Shaffer, MD
Morton Silverman, MD
Yoshitomo Takahashi, MD
Airi Varnik, MD
Danuta Wasserman, MD
Paul Yip, PhD
Herbert Hendin, MD
health issue. In 2002, an esti-
mated 877 000 lives were lost
worldwide through suicide, rep-
resenting 1.5% of the global burden of
disease or more than 20 million dis-
ability-adjusted life-years (years of
healthy life lost through premature
death or disability).
The highest an-
nual rates are in Eastern Europe, where
10 countries report more than 27 sui-
cides per 100 000 persons. Latin Ameri-
can and Muslim countries report the
lowest rates, fewer than 6.5 per
100 000.
In the United States, in 2002,
suicide accounted for 31 655 deaths, a
rate of 11.0 per 100 000 per year,
general population surveys document
a suicide attempt rate of 0.6% and a sui-
cide ideation rate of 3.3%,
ing a huge human tragedy and an es-
timated $11.8 billion in lost income.
Suicidal behavior has multiple causes
that are broadly divided into proximal
CME available online at
Author Affiliations are listed at the end of this article.
Corresponding Author: J. John Mann, MD, Depart-
ment of Neuroscience, New York State Psychiatric In-
stitute, 1051 Riverside Dr, Box 42, New York, NY
10032 (
Context In 2002, an estimated 877 000 lives were lost worldwide through suicide.
Some developed nations have implemented national suicide prevention plans. Al-
though these plans generally propose multiple interventions, their effectiveness is rarely
Objectives To examine evidence for the effectiveness of specific suicide-preventive
interventions and to make recommendations for future prevention programs and re-
Data Sources and Study Selection Relevant publications were identified via elec-
tronic searches of MEDLINE, the Cochrane Library, and PsychINFO databases using
multiple search terms related to suicide prevention. Studies, published between 1966
and June 2005, included those that evaluated preventative interventions in major do-
mains; education and awareness for the general public and for professionals; screen-
ing tools for at-risk individuals; treatment of psychiatric disorders; restricting access to
lethal means; and responsible media reporting of suicide.
Data Extraction Data were extracted on primary outcomes of interest: suicidal be-
havior (completion, attempt, ideation), intermediary or secondary outcomes (treat-
ment seeking, identification of at-risk individuals, antidepressant prescription/use rates,
referrals), or both. Experts from 15 countries reviewed all studies. Included articles were
those that reported on completed and attempted suicide and suicidal ideation; or, where
applicable, intermediate outcomes, including help-seeking behavior, identification of
at-risk individuals, entry into treatment, and antidepressant prescription rates. We in-
cluded 3 major types of studies for which the research question was clearly defined:
systematic reviews and meta-analyses (n=10); quantitative studies, either random-
ized controlled trials (n=18) or cohort studies (n=24); and ecological, or population-
based studies (n= 41). Heterogeneity of study populations and methodology did not
permit formal meta-analysis; thus, a narrative synthesis is presented.
Data Synthesis Education of physicians and restricting access to lethal means were
found to prevent suicide. Other methods including public education, screening pro-
grams, and media education need more testing.
Conclusions Physician education in depression recognition and treatment and re-
stricting access to lethal methods reduce suicide rates. Other interventions need more
evidence of efficacy. Ascertaining which components of suicide prevention programs
are effective in reducing rates of suicide and suicide attempt is essential in order to
optimize use of limited resources.
JAMA. 2005;294:2064-2074
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stressors or triggers and predisposi-
Psychiatric illness is a major con-
tributing factor, and more than 90% of
suicides have a Diagnostic and Statisti-
cal Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth
Edition (DSM-IV) psychiatric ill-
with some exceptions, such as
in China.
Mood disorders, princi-
pally major depressive disorder and bi-
polar disorder, are associated with about
60% of suicides.
Other con-
tributory factors include availability of
lethal means, alcohol and drug abuse,
access to psychiatric treatment, atti-
tudes to suicide, help-seeking behav-
ior, physical illness, marital status, age,
and sex.
To address these causes, sui-
cide prevention involves a multifac-
eted approach with particular atten-
tion to mental health. The F
illustrates the multiple factors in-
volved in suicidal behavior
and indi-
cates where specific preventive inter-
ventions are being directed. Suicide
prevention is possible because up to
83% of suicides have had contact with
a primary care physician within a year
of their death and up to 66% within a
Thus, a key prevention strat-
egy is improved screening of de-
pressed patients by primary care phy-
sicians and better treatment of major
depression. This review considers what
is known about this and other preven-
tion strategies to permit integration into
a comprehensive prevention strategy.
Suicide experts from 15 countries met
in Salzburg, Austria, in August 2004 to
review efficacy of suicide prevention in-
terventions. The 5-day workshop iden-
tified 5 major areas of prevention: edu-
cation and awareness programs for the
general public and professionals; screen-
ing methods for high-risk persons; treat-
ment of psychiatric disorders; restrict-
ing access to lethal means; and media
reporting of suicide.
An electronic literature search of all ar-
ticles published between 1966 and June
2005 was conducted via MEDLINE, the
Cochrane Library, and PsychINFO to
identify reports evaluating suicide pre-
vention interventions. An initial search
used theMEDLINE identifiersuicide (in-
cluding the subheading suicide, at-
tempted) and the subheading prevention
and control, following that suicide was
combined with the following identifiers:
depression, health education, health pro-
motion, public opinion, mass screening,
family physicians,medical education,pri-
mary health care, antidepressive agents,
ods,firearms,overdose, poisoning, gaspoi-
soning, and mass media. We identified
5020 articles, which were not bound by
the 5 major areas identified during the
workshop. Abstracts were reviewed and
full-text articles that met inclusion cri-
teria were retrieved. All reports were re-
viewed by at least 2 authors.
Study Selection
Studies wereincluded if theyreported on
either the primary outcomes of interest,
namely completedand attemptedsuicide
andsuicidal ideation;or,where applicable,
intermediate outcomes, including help-
seeking behavior,identification of at-risk
individuals, entryinto treatment, and an-
tidepressant prescription rates.
We included 3 major types of stud-
ies for which the research question was
clearly defined as assessment of efficacy
or effectiveness of prevention programs
in terms of the above primaryor second-
ary outcomes;(1) systematicreviews and
meta-analyses (n =10) for which the
search strategy was comprehensive and
the methodological quality of primary
studies was critically appraised; (2)quan-
titative studies, either randomized con-
trolled trials (n=18), or cohort studies
(n=24); and (3) ecological or popula-
tion based studies (n=41). T
ABLE 1 and
TABLE 2 detail study type, study popu-
lation, and preventive intervention tested
and rate the studies according to the
scheme proposed by the Oxford Centre
for Evidence Based Medicine.
domized controlled trials provide the
most compelling evidence of efficacy
while findings of naturalistic studies are
largely correlational,indicating thattheir
outcomes need further testing.
Figure. Targets of Suicide Prevention Interventions
Stressful Life Event
Mood or Other
Psychiatric Disorder
Suicidal Ideation
Suicidal Act
Education and Awareness Programs
Primary Care Physicians
General Public
Community or Organizational
Screening for Individuals at High Risk
Antidepressants, Including Selective
Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
Alcoholism Programs
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Restriction of Access to Lethal Means
Follow-up Care for Suicide Attempts
Media Reporting Guidelines for Suicide
Access to
Lethal Means
and/or Pessimism
Circled letters refer to relevant prevention interventions listed on right.
©2005 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. (Reprinted) JAMA, October 26, 2005—Vol 294, No. 16 2065
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Table 1. Study Type, Level of Evidence, Population, and Prevention Strategy
Source Study Type Level* Population Prevention Strategy
Gunnell et al,
2005 Meta-analysis 1A RCTs in UK psychiatric patients Antidepressant use
Fergusson et al,
2005 Meta-analysis 1A RCTs in psychiatric patients Antidepressant use
Khan et al,
2003 Meta-analysis 1A RCTs in US psychiatric patients Antidepressant use
Ploeg et al,
1996 Systematic review 2A Adolescents Curriculum-based programs
Guo and Harstall,
2002 Systematic review 2A Adolescents Curriculum-based program
Pignone et al,
2002 Systematic review 2A Primary care patients Screening for depression in primary care
1994 Systematic review 2A Primary care patients Screening for depression in primary care
Gaynes et al,
2004 Systematic review 2A Primary care patients Screening for suicide risk in primary care
Gilbody et al,
2003 Systematic review 2A Primary care patients Detecting and treating depression in primary care
Hawton et al,
2000 Systematic review 2A Patients who attempted suicide Psychotherapy
Aseltine and DeMartino,
2004 RCT 1B Adolescents Curriculum-based program
Thompson et al,
2000 RCT 1B Primary care patients Detecting and treating depression in primary care
Bruce et al,
2004 RCT 1B Older primary care patients Detecting and treating depression in primary care
Glick et al,
2004 RCT 1B Adults with schizophrenia spectrum
Meltzer et al,
2003 RCT 1B Adults with schizophrenia spectrum
Thies-Flechtner et al,
1996 RCT 1B Adults with affective disorders Lithium
Brown et al,
2005 RCT 1B Suicide attempters Psychotherapy
Guthrie et al,
2001 RCT 1B Suicide attempters Psychotherapy
Bateman and Fonagy,
2001 RCT 1B Borderline personality disorder
Motto and Bostrom,
2001 RCT 1B Suicide attempters Follow-up care: postal contact program
Cedereke et al,
2002 RCT 1B Suicide attempters Follow-up care: telephone contact program
Allard et al,
1992 RCT 1B Suicide attempters Follow-up care
Morgan et al,
1993 RCT 1B Suicide attempters Follow-up care: green card
Asarnow et al,
2005 RCT 1B Adolescents Primary care physician education: quality
Orbach and Bar-Joseph,
1993 RCT 1B Adolescents Curriculum-based program
Eggert et al,
1995 RCT 1B Adolescents Curriculum-based program
Thompson et al,
2001 RCT 1B Adolescents Curriculum-based program
Huey et al,
2004 RCT 1B Psychiatric crisis in adolescents Follow-up care
2001 Cohort study (quasi-experimental) 2B Primary care patients in Hungary Primary care physician education
Marusic et al,
2004 Cohort study (quasi-experimental) 2B Primary care patients in Slovenia Primary care physician education
Kelly et al,
1998 Cohort study (quasi-experimental) 2B Primary care physicians Primary care physician education
Oyama et al,
2004 Cohort study (quasi-experimental) 2B Primary care patients in Japan Primary care physician education
Mann et al,
2004 Cohort study (quasi-experimental) 2B General population in Hungary Antidepressants
Knox et al,
2003 Cohort study (quasi-experimental) 2B US Air Force personnel Gatekeeper programs
1970 Quasi-experimental 2B General US population Media blackout
Loftin et al,
1991 Cohort study (quasi-experimental) 2B General US population Firearm restriction
Hegerl et al,
2003 Cohort study (quasi-experimental) 2B General population in Germany Public education campaign
Jorm et al,
2005 Cohort study (quasi-experimental) 2B General population in Australia Public education campaign
Paykel et al,
1998 Cohort study 2B General UK population Public education campaign
Akroyd and Wyllie,
2002 Cohort study 2B General population in New Zealand Public education campaign
Lehfeld et al,
2004 Cohort study 2B General population in Germany Public education campaign
Naismith et al,
2001 Cohort study 2B Primary care physicians in Australia Primary care physician education
Hannaford et al,
1996 Cohort study 2B Primary care physicians in UK Primary care physician education
Lin et al,
2001 Cohort study 2B Primary care physicians in US Primary care physician education
Valentini et al,
2004 Cohort study 2B Primary care physicians and
patients in Brazil
Primary care physician education
Pfaff et al,
2001 Cohort study 2B Primary care physicians in Australia Primary care physician education
Takahashi et al,
1998 Cohort study 2B Primary care patients Primary care physician education
1989 Cohort study 2B Primary care patients Primary care physician education
Mehlum and Schwebs,
2000 Cohort study 2B Norwegian Army Gatekeeper education
Dieserud et al,
2000 Cohort study 2B General population in Norway Chain of care
1999 Cohort study 4 High-risk adults Follow-up care
Rotheram-Borus et al,
2000 Cohort study 4 Suicide attempters Follow-up care
Abbreviation: RCT, randomized controlled trial.
*Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, levels of evidence: 1A, systematic review of RCTs; 1B, individual RCT; 2A, systematic review of cohort studies; 2B, individual cohort study,
low-quality RCT; 2C, ecological studies; 3A, systematic review of case-control studies; 3B, individual case-control study; 4, case series, poor-quality cohort and case-control studies.
2066 JAMA, October 26, 2005—Vol 294, No. 16 (Reprinted) ©2005 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
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Heterogeneity in study methodology
and populations limited formal meta-
analysis, thus we present a narrative
synthesis of the results for the key do-
mains of suicide prevention interven-
Awareness and Education
General Public. Public education cam-
paigns are aimed at improving recog-
nition of suicide risk and help seeking
through improved understanding of the
causes and risk factors for suicidal be-
havior, particularly mental illness. Pub-
lic education also seeks to reduce stig-
matization of mental illness and suicide
and challenges the acceptance of sui-
cide as inevitable, as a national char-
acter trait, or as an appropriate solu-
tion to life problems, including serious
medical illness. Despite their popular-
ity as a public health intervention, the
effectiveness of public awareness and
education campaigns in reducing sui-
cidal behavior has seldom been sys-
tematically evaluated.
Studies in Germany,
the United
and New Zea-
suggest modest effects of public
education campaigns on attitudes re-
garding the causes and treatment of de-
pression. Such public education and
awareness campaigns, lar gely about de-
pression, have no detectable effect on
primary outcomes of decreasing sui-
cidal acts or on intermediate mea-
sures, such as more treatment seeking
or increased antidepressant use.
The German study showed an 18% de-
crease in suicide attempts in an inter-
vention region after 9 months of a de-
pression awareness campaign.
However, the decline in suicide at-
tempts occurred without a greater im-
provement in attitudes in the interven-
tion region compared with the control
Other specific education strategies
are aimed at youth, including school
and community-based programs.
Few such programs are evidence-
based, reflect the current state of knowl-
edge in suicide prevention, or evalu-
ate effectiveness and safety for
preventing suicidal behavior.
A sys-
tematic review of studies published
from 1980-1995 found that knowl-
edge about suicide improved but there
were both beneficial and harmful effects
in terms of help-seeking, attitudes, and
peer support.
A later review of stud-
ies published from 1990-2002 also
found that curriculum-based pro-
grams increase knowledge and im-
prove attitudes to mental illness and sui-
cide but found insufficient evidence for
prevention of suicidal behavior.
A sub-
sequent controlled trial reported lower
suicide attempt rates, greater knowl-
edge, and more adaptive attitudes about
depression and suicide in the interven-
tion group compared with in the 3
months after the intervention, but no
significant benefits for rates of suicide
ideation or help-seeking.
In adoles-
cents, several studies found that im-
proving problem solving, coping with
stress, and increasing resilience en-
hance hypothesized protective factors
but effects on suicidal behavior were un-
Primary Care Physicians. Depres-
sion and other psychiatric disorders are
underrecognized and undertreated in
the primary care setting.
tion is possible because most suicides
have had contact with a primary care
physician within a month of death.
Primary car e physicians’ lack of knowl-
edge about or failure to screen pa-
tients for depression may contribute to
nontreatment seen in most suicides.
Therefore, improving physician recog-
nition of depression and suicide risk
evaluation is a component of suicide
Some studies in the United King-
the United States,
and Northern Ireland,
showed that
programs aimed at educating primary
care physicians impr oved detection and
increased treatment of depression, but
that was not shown in other studies in
the United States,
and the
United Kingdom.
Nurse case man-
agement, collaborative care, or quality
improvement initiatives can further im-
prove the recognition and manage-
ment of depression
and has applica-
tion where education alone may be
A controlled trial comparing a tr eat-
ment algorithm plus depression care
management with treatment as usual for
late-life depression in primary care in the
United States demonstrated greater im-
provement in patient suicidal ideation
and a more favorable course of illness
in the intervention group compared with
the tr eatment-as-usual group.
An ado-
lescent depression treatment quality im-
provement intervention with care man-
agers supporting primary car e physicians
resulted in a 50% decrease in suicide at-
tempts in the intervention group that
was not statistically different from the
control group (18%) due to the low base
An Australian program that
trained primary care physicians to r ec-
ognize and r espond to psychological dis-
tress and suicidal ideation in young
people increased identification of sui-
cidal patients by 130% (determined by
the Depressive Symptom Inventory–
Suicidality Subscale score), without
changes in treatment or management
Studies examining suicidal
behavior in response to primary care
physician education programs, mostly
targeting depression recognition and
treatment, in specific regions in Swe-
and Slov-
have all reported incr eased pre-
scription rate for antidepressants and
often substantial declines in suicide rates
and represent the most striking known
example of a therapeutic intervention
lowering suicide rates.
Gatekeepers. Suicide pr evention in-
cludes a range of interventions focused
on community or organizational gate-
keepers whose contact with potentially
vulnerable populations provides an op-
portunity to identify at-risk individu-
als and direct them to appropriate as-
sessment and treatment.
include clergy, first responders, phar-
macists, geriatric caregivers, personnel
staff, and those employed in institu-
tional settings, such as schools, pris-
ons, and the military. Education cov-
ered awareness of risk factors, policy
changes to encourage help-seeking,
availability of r esources, and efforts to
©2005 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. (Reprinted) JAMA, October 26, 2005—Vol 294, No. 16 2067
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reduce stigma associated with help-
seeking. In addition to gatekeeper train-
ing, these programs also promoted or-
ganization-wide awareness of mental
health and suicide and facilitated ac-
cess to mental health services.
To date, systematic evaluation of im-
pact on suicidal behavior has largely
been limited to multilevel programs
conducted in institutional settings, such
as the military where programs in the
Norwegian Army
and the US Air
have reported success in low-
ering suicide rates.
Screening aims to identify at-risk indi-
viduals and direct them to treatment.
Table 2. Ecological Studies, Level of Evidence, Population, and Prevention Strategy
Source Study Type Level* Population Prevention Strategy
Etzersdorfer and Sonneck,
1998 Ecological 2C General population in Austria Media blackout
Bridges and Kunselman,
2004 Ecological 2C General population in Canada Firearm restrictions
Lester and Leenaars,
1993 Ecological 2C General population in Canada Firearm restrictions
Snowdon and Harris,
1992 Ecological 2C General population in Australia Firearm restrictions
Ludwig and Cook,
2000 Ecological 2C General US population Firearm restrictions
Ohberg et al,
1995 Ecological 2C General population in Finland Pesticide restriction
1995 Ecological 2C General population in Samoa Pesticide restriction
1999 Ecological 2C General population in Canada Firearm restriction
1976 Ecological 2C General UK population Domestic gas detoxification
1990 Ecological 2C General population in Switzerland Domestic gas detoxification
Gunnell et al,
2000 Ecological 2C General UK population Domestic gas detoxification
1993 Ecological 2C General population Barbiturate restrictions
Nielsen and Nielsen,
1992 Ecological 2C General population Barbiturate restrictions
Yamasawa et al,
1980 Ecological 2C General population in Japan Barbiturate restrictions
2002 Ecological 2C General UK population Analgesic packaging changes
2000 Ecological 2C General population in England and Wales Catalytic converters
Kelly and Bunting,
1998 Ecological 2C General population in England and Wales Catalytic converters
1994 Ecological 2C General US population Catalytic converters
Carlsten et al,
2001 Ecological 2C General population in Sweden Antidepressants
2001 Ecological 2C General population in New Zealand Barriers to jumping
Gibbons et al,
2004 Ecological 2C General US population Antidepressant use plus
introduction of
Olfson et al,
2003 Ecological 2C US adolescents Antidepressants
Hall et al,
2003 Ecological 2C General population in Australia Antidepressants
Helgason et al,
2004 Ecological 2C General population in Iceland Antidepressants
1999 Ecological 2C General population in Japan Antidepressants
Guaiana et al,
2005 Ecological 2C General population in Italy Antidepressants
Simon et al,
2005 Ecological 2C General US population Antidepressants
Valuck et al,
2004 Ecological 2C US adolescents Antidepressants
Ludwig and Marcotte,
2005 Ecological 2C General population in 27 countries SSRIs
Cantor and Slater,
1995 Ecological 2C General population in Australia Firearm restrictions
1975 Ecological 2C General population in Australia Barbiturate restriction
1991 Ecological 2C General population in the Netherlands Domestic gas detoxification
Wiedenmann and Weyerer,
1993 Ecological 2C General population in Germany Domestic gas detoxification
1990 Ecological 2C General US population Domestic gas detoxification
Oliver and Hetzel,
1972 Ecological 2C General population in Australia Barbiturate restrictions
1989 Ecological 2C General population in Norway Barbiturate restrictions
Carlsten et al,
1996 Ecological 2C General population in Sweden Barbiturate restrictions
Mott et al,
2002 Ecological 2C General US population Catalytic converters
Kapur et al,
1992 Ecological 2C General US population Introduction of lower-toxicity
Wasserman and Varnik,
1998 Ecological 2C General population in former USSR Alcohol restriction
1999 Ecological 2C General population in Iceland Alcohol restriction
Abbreviation: SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.
*For the definition of the Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, Levels of Evidence, see Table 1.
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The focus may be on suicidal behavior
directly or risk factors, such as depres-
sion or substance abuse. Screening in-
struments for depression, suicidal ide-
ation, or suicidal acts administered to
high school students,
juvenile of-
and youth in general
reliability and validity in identifying in-
dividuals at increased risk for suicidal
behavior and are reported to double the
number of known at-risk individu-
There is no evidence that screen-
ing youth for suicide induces suicidal
thinking or behavior.
Acceptance of
the need for treatment by identified at-
risk youth and actual treatment imple-
mentation are understudied as poten-
tial barriers to the effectiveness of
screening programs.
The US Preventive Services Task
Force (USPSTF) review of studies of de-
pression screening in adults in pri-
mary health care settings found a 10%
to 47% increase in rates of detection and
diagnosis of depression with the use of
screening tools.
The effect on treat-
ment was mixed, due to differences in
study methodology. In contrast, a Ca-
nadian review of depression screening
studies did not find routine screening
in primary care to improve depression
Neither report commented on
effects on suicidal behavior. In con-
trast, screening in localized geo-
graphic areas results in more treat-
ment of depression and lower suicide
The 2004 USPSTF
view of evidence on screening for sui-
cide risk, as opposed to depression,
found no published studies in English
evaluating the effectiveness of screen-
ing for suicide risk in primary care.
Treatment Interventions
Pharmacotherapy. Psychiatric disor-
ders are present in at least 90% of sui-
cides and more than 80% are un-
treated at time of death.
is untreated or undertreated in gen-
even after suicide at-
Thus, treating mood and other
psychiatric disorders is a central com-
ponent of suicide prevention.
Antidepressant medications allevi-
ate depression and other psychiatric dis-
However meta-analyses of
RCTs have generally not detected ben-
efit for suicide or suicide attempts in
studies of antidepressants in mood and
other psychiatric disorders,
haps due to the low base rate of sui-
cidal behavior and insufficient system-
atic screening for suicidal behavior since
reliance on spontaneous reporting un-
derestimates rates of suicidal behav-
Randomized contr olled trials can
be informative when higher-risk pa-
tients are studied and indicate an an-
tisuicidal effect for lithium in major
mood disorders
and clozapine in
Few studies prospec-
tively identified suicidal behavior as an
outcome measure and systematically as-
sessed it throughout the RCT.
Higher prescription rates of antide-
pressants correlate with decreasing sui-
cide rates in adults or youth in Hun-
and the
United States.
Geographic regions
or demographic groups with the high-
est selective serotonin reuptake inhibi-
tor prescription rates have the lowest
suicide rates in the United States
Although Iceland,
and Italy
do not show such cor-
relations, potential r easons include lack
of compliance; pre-existing low-
suicide rate, resulting in a floor effect;
and high rates of alcoholism that may
elevate suicide rates or the effect may
be confined to women because too few
men seek and comply with treatment
with antidepressants. Suicide rates in
27 countries fell most markedly in
countries that had the greatest in-
crease in selective serotonin reuptake
inhibitor pr escriptions.
Patient popu-
lation studies report lower suicide at-
tempt rates in adults treated with an-
tidepressant medication
and in
adolescents after 6 months of antide-
pressant treatment compared with less
than two months of treatment.
risk of an ecological fallacy, that is, in-
ferring causality from group correla-
tions, prevents attributing decreases in
suicide rates solely to antidepressant
use. Nevertheless, ther e is a striking cor-
relation and plausible mechanism link-
ing antidepressant use to declining rates
of untreated major depression and
therefore suicide.
Concerns about higher rates of sui-
cide-related adverse event reports in de-
pressed children and adolescents tak-
ing selective serotonin reuptake
inhibitors compared with placebo in
RCTs have prompted regulatory bod-
ies in the United States, the United
Kingdom, and Europe to issue warn-
ings urging clinicians to monitor sui-
cide risk and adverse effects carefully
when prescribing antidepressants to
youth. Such concerns need to be
weighed against the risk of untreated
depression because suicide is the third
leading cause of death in youth and
more than 90% of suicides in de-
pressed youth are untreated at the time
of death.
Psychotherapy. Pr omising results in
reducing repetition of suicidal behav-
ior and improving treatment adher-
ence exist for cognitive therapy,
lem-solving therapy,
intensive care
plus outr each,
and interpersonal psy-
compared with standard
aftercare. Cognitive therapy halved the
reattempt rate in suicide attempters
compared with those receiving usual
In borderline personality disor-
der, dialectical behavioral therapy
psychoanalytically oriented partial hos-
improved treatment ad-
herence and reduced suicidal behav-
ior compared with standard after care.
Intermediate outcomes such as hope-
lessness and depressive symptoms im-
prove with problem solving therapy, and
suicidal ideation is decreased with in-
terpersonal psychotherapy, cognitive be-
havior therapy, and dialectical behav-
ioral therapy.
Follow-up Care After Suicide
Attempts. Many psychiatric disor-
ders, including depression, are chronic
and recurrent
and compliance with
maintenance medication is often poor.
Interventions for depression provided
by primary care physicians are more ef-
fective when a case manager follows up
with patients who miss appointments
or need prescription renewals.
depressed patients who survive a sui-
cide attempt will make further suicide
©2005 American Medical Association. All rights reserved. (Reprinted) JAMA, October 26, 2005—Vol 294, No. 16 2069
on January 14, 2008 www.jama.comDownloaded from
particularly in the period
shortly following psychiatric hospital-
or during future major de-
pressive episodes.
Thus, improved
acute, continuation, and maintenance
care, including psychiatric hospitaliza-
tion, where necessary, of those with re-
current or chronic psychiatric disor-
particularly patients who
attempt suicide with mood disorders,
has potential for prevention. Reduc-
tion of the number of psychiatric in-
patient beds in Norway as part of a pro-
gram of deinstitutionalization of
psychiatric inpatients resulted in an in-
creased suicide rate in the year after dis-
char ge with a standardized mortality ra-
tio of 133(95% confidence inter val,
90.1-190.7) in men and 208.5 (95%
confidence interval, 121.5-333.9) in
The Norwegian multidisciplinary
chain-of-care networks provide fol-
low-up car e after hospital care to those
who attempt suicide. Regions with chain-
of-care programs have lower treatment
dropout rates and fewer repeat at-
Intervention studies of those
who attempt suicide to prevent future
suicidal behavior have produced mixed
results, including fewer suicides com-
pared with a control group after regular
and fewer suicide attempts af-
ter issuing an emergency contact green
) or use of a suicide intervention
counselor to coordinate assessment and
long-term tr eatment.
Other interven-
tions for those who attempt suicide, in-
cluding telephone follow-up, intensive
psychosocial follow-up, and video edu-
cation plus family therapy, resulted in no
differ ence between standard after care and
intervention groups in rate of reattempt
or reemer gent suicidal ideation.
Means Restriction
Suicide attempts using highly lethal
means, such as firearms in US men, or
pesticides in rural China, India, and Sri
Lanka, result in higher rates of death.
Suicides by such methods have de-
creased after firearm control legisla-
restrictions on pesti-
detoxification of domestic
restrictions on the
prescription and sale of barbitu-
changing the pack-
aging of analgesics to blister packets,
mandatory use of catalytic converters
in motor vehicles,
of barriers at jumping sites,
and the
use of new lower toxicity anti-
Where the method is common, re-
striction of means has led to lower over-
all suicide rates: firearms in Canada
and Washington, DC,
barbiturate re-
striction in Australia,
domestic gas de-
toxification in Switzerland
and the
United Kingdom,
and vehicle emis-
sions in England.
Restrictions on ac-
cess to alcohol have coincided with de-
creases in overall suicide rates in the
former Union of Soviet Socialists Re-
and Iceland.
Substitution of method may ob-
scure a change in overall suicide rates,
as has been observed for domestic gas
detoxification among men in the United
in Germany,
and in the
United States
and for banning the pes-
ticide parathion in Finland.
unresolved questions about method
substitution, these studies demon-
strate the life-saving potential of re-
stricting lethal means. Gauging the ex-
tent to which declining overall suicide
rates are directly attributable to restric-
tion in access to particular means re-
quires consideration of long-term trends
and confounding factors such as in-
creased antidepressant use.
The media can help or hinder suicide
prevention efforts by being an avenue
for public education or by exacerbat-
ing suicide risk by glamorizing sui-
cide or promoting it as a solution to life’s
problems. The latter may encourage
vulnerable individuals to attempt sui-
cide or to be attracted to suicide hot
spots portrayed in the media as dis-
cussed by Pirkis et al
and Gould.
Media blackouts on reporting suicide
have coincided with decreases in sui-
cide rates.
A 1987 campaign to de-
crease media coverage of subway sui-
cides in Austria cut subway suicides by
The Internet is of increasing con-
cern, particularly the effects of suicide
chat rooms, the provision of instruc-
tion in methods for suicide, and the ac-
tive solicitation of suicide-pact partners.
Educating journalists and establish-
ing media guidelines for reporting sui-
cide have had mixed results.
American Foundation for Suicide Pre-
vention and Annenberg Public Policy
and The Centers for Dis-
ease Control and Prevention
in the
United States have produced guide-
lines for the responsible reporting of
suicide; however, no published stud-
ies have evaluated their impact.
Conclusions and Future Directions
National suicide prevention strategies
have been proposed despite knowl-
edge deficits about the effectiveness of
some common key components. The
relative impact of different strategies on
national suicide rates is important for
planning but difficult to estimate.
ABLE 3 summarizes estimates of im-
pact of different interventions on na-
tional suicide rates showing that the
most promising interventions are phy-
sician education, means restriction, and
gatekeeper education. Many universal
or targeted educational interventions
are multifaceted, and it is not known
which components produce the de-
sired outcome, or there may be longer-
term trends in suicide rates that are not
captured by the studies.
Table 3. Postintervention Decrease in Total
Suicide Rates
Suicides, % Decline
in Annual Rate
Public Not available
Primary care physician 22-73
US Air Force 40
Norwegian Army 33
Increasing antidepressant
Chain of care Not available
Restricting lethal means
Guns 1.5-9.5
Domestic gas 19-33
Barbiturates 23
Vehicle emissions Not available
Analgesics Not available
Media blackouts Not available
*There was a 414% increase in antidepressant prescrip-
tions 1987-1999.
2070 JAMA, October 26, 2005—Vol 294, No. 16 (Reprinted) ©2005 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
on January 14, 2008 www.jama.comDownloaded from
Physician Education. This in-
creases the number of diagnosed and
treated depressed patients with accom-
panying reductions in suicide al-
though booster programs appear nec-
essary. Videoconferencing and other
teleconferencing consulting methods
are possibilities wher e expert help is not
available locally. However, the effect on
suicide rates must be measured, as well
as effects on intermediate outcomes,
such as primary care physician–
diagnosed cases of major depression
and antidepressant prescription rates.
Pharmacotherapy. Randomized con-
trolled trials are needed to prove that
selective serotonin reuptake inhibi-
tors decrease suicide rates. Their effi-
cacy is established for major depres-
sion, the main risk factor for suicide.
Education programs targeting pri-
mary care physicians should include in-
struction on use of antidepressants. The
relationship between antidepressant use
and emergent suicidal ideation and be-
havior in depressed children and ado-
lescents needs further study. Because
most depr essed youth who attempt sui-
cide are untreated, it is important not
to pr ematurely discourage the use of ef-
fective antidepressants such as fluox-
Gatekeeper Education. Where the
roles of gatekeepers are formalized and
pathways to treatment ar e readily avail-
able, such as in the military, educating
gatekeepers helps reduce suicidal be-
havior. Demonstration projects for other
gatekeepers with intermediate out-
come measures, such as referral rates
and psychiatric treatment rates, should
be conducted.
Means Restriction. Restricting ac-
cess to lethal methods decreases sui-
cides by those methods. Priority should
be given to the most commonly used
methods in each country. The possibil-
ity of substitution of methods requires
ongoing monitoring, as does compli-
ance with restrictions such as firearm
Screening. Although screening pro-
grams have reported some success in
identifying individuals with known risk
factors for suicide, particularly among
high school and college student popu-
lations, further consideration needs to
be given to determining the cost-
effectiveness of screening general popu-
lations vs identified at-risk popula-
tions for reducing suicide rates, the
predictive validity and reliability of spe-
cific scr eening instruments, and the ap-
propriateness of standard suicide
screening instruments across different
Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy alone
or in combination with some antide-
pressants can be an effective treat-
ment for depression, for suicidal ide-
ation, for suicide attempts in borderline
personality disorder, and for prevent-
ing new attempts after a suicide at-
tempt. More needs to be known about
the combinations of psychotherapeu-
tic and pharmacologic interventions for
short-and long-term outcomes for sui-
cidal patients.
Chain of Care. After a suicide at-
tempt, better structured collaboration
between hospitals and teams provid-
ing follow-up care may improve com-
pliance with treatment and decrease
new attempts, but essential elements of
postsuicide attempt interventions are
yet to be identified.
Media. Strategies for influencing how
the media reports suicide need to be
implemented and evaluated.
Suicide prevention interventions
should be multimodal, evidence-
based, guided by specific testable
hypotheses, and implemented among
populations of sufficient size to yield
generalizable and reliable results. Pro-
grams must include outcome mea-
sures. Finally, because most studies
have been conducted in developed
nations, many issues facing underre-
sourced developing nations have not
been addressed and require future
studies specifically focused on suicide
Author Affiliations: New York State Psychiatric Insti-
tute, Division of Neuroscience (Drs Mann and Cur-
rier) and Division of Child psychiatry (Dr Schaffer), De-
partment of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New
York; Department of Psychiatry, Schneiders Chil-
drens Medical Center of Israel (Dr Apter); Depart-
ment of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World
Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland (Dr Berto-
lote); Canterbury Suicide Project, Christchurch School
of Medicine and Health Sciences, Christchurch, New
Zealand (Dr Beautrais); American Foundation for Sui-
cide Prevention, New York, NY (Drs Haas and Hen-
din); Department of Psychiatry, Ludwig-Maximilians-
Universität, Munich, Germany (Dr Hegerl); Department
of Mental Health and Alcohol Research, National Pub-
lic Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland (Dr Lonnqvist);
Department of Psychiatry & Mental Health Re-
search, St Vincents University Hospital, Dublin, Ire-
land (Dr Malone); Institute of Public Health of the Re-
public of Slovenia, Ljubjana, Slovenia (Dr Marusic);
Suicide Research and Prevention Unit, University of
Oslo, Oslo, Norway (Dr Mehlum); Centre for Ado-
lescent Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne,
Australia (Dr Patton); Beijing Suicide Research and Pre-
vention Center, Beijing, China (Dr Phillips); Division
of Psychiatry, Unit for Social Psychiatry and Health Pro-
motion, Academic University Hospital, Uppsala, Swe-
den (Dr Rutz); National Institute for Psychiatry and
Neurology, Budapest, Hungary (Dr Rihmer); Depart-
ment of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of
Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany (Dr Schmidtke); Na-
tional Suicide Prevention Technical Resource Center,
Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, New-
ton, Mass (Dr Silverman); Division of Behavior Sci-
ences, National Defense Medical College Research
Institute, Tokyo, Japan (Dr Takahashi); Estonian-
Swedish Suicidology Institute, Center Behavior and
Health Science, Tallinn, Estonia (Dr Varnik); Depart-
ment of Public Health Sciences at Karolinska Insti-
tute, Swedish National Centre for Suicide Research and
Prevention of Mental Ill-Health, Stockholm, Sweden
(Dr Wasserman); and Hong Kong Jockey Club Cen-
ter for Suicide Research and Prevention, University of
Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China (Dr Yip).
Author Contributions: Dr Mann had full access to all
of the data in the study and takes responsibility for
the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data
Study concept and design: Mann, Apter, Beautrais,
Haas, Hegerl, Lonnqvist, Malone, Mehlum, Schmidtke,
Shaffer, Varnik, Wasserman, Yip, Hendin.
Acquisition of data: Mann, Apter, Bertolote, Hegerl,
Lonnqvist, Malone, Marusic, Mehlum, Phillips,
Silverman, Takahashi, Hendin.
Analysis and interpretation of data: Mann, Bertolote,
Beautrais, Currier, Haas, Hegerl, Malone, Marusic,
Mehlum, Patton, Rutz, Rihmer, Silverman, Hendin.
Drafting of the manuscript: Mann, Apter, Beautrais,
Currier, Haas, Hegerl, Schmidtke, Shaffer.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important in-
tellectual content: Mann, Apter, Bertolote, Beautrais,
Haas, Hegerl, Lonnqvist, Malone, Marusic, Mehlum,
Patton, Phillips, Rutz, Rihmer, Schmidtke, Shaffer,
Silverman, Takahashi, Varnik, Wasserman, Yip, Hendin.
Statistical analysis: Mann, Marusic.
Obtained funding: Malone, Hendin.
Administrative, technical, or material support:
Beautrais, Currier, Haas, Hegerl, Lonnqvist, Patton,
Schmidtke, Silverman, Hendin.
Study supervision: Mann, Rutz, Rihmer.
Financial Disclosures: Dr Mann received a grant from
GlaxoSmithKline to do a positron-emission tomogra-
phy study of Alzheimer disease; otherwise, no finan-
cial disclosures were reported.
Funding/Support: Funding for the International Strat-
egies Workshop was provided by an unrestricted edu-
cational grant from Pfizer Inc.
Role of the Sponsor: Pfizer had no role in the design
and conduct of the study; collection, management,
analysis, and interpretation of the data; and prepara-
tion, review, or approval of the manuscript.
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A good writer, and one who writes with care, often
finds that the expression he’s spent a long time hunt-
ing for without finding it, and which he finds at last,
turns out to be the simplest and most natural one,
which looks as if it ought to have occurred to him at
the beginning, without any effort.
—Jean de la Bruyère (1645-1696)
2074 JAMA, October 26, 2005—Vol 294, No. 16 (Reprinted) ©2005 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
on January 14, 2008 www.jama.comDownloaded from
... Future clinical neuroimaging studies including structural, functional, and pharmacological magnetic resonance imaging, and positron emission tomography may shed some light on the role of testosterone in the biological mechanisms of mood disorders and suicidal behavior. About 60% of all individuals dying from suicide have mood disorders [46]. Therefore, studies of the neurobiology of suicidal behavior in persons with bipolar illness and other mood disorders are of the utmost importance. ...
Full-text available
Bipolar disorder is associated with suicidal behavior. The risk of suicide for individuals with bipolar disorder is up to 20–30 times larger than that of the general population. Considerable evidence suggests that testosterone may play a role in the pathophysiology of suicidal behavior in both men and women with bipolar disorder and other psychiatric conditions. Testosterone has complex effects on psychological traits. It affects mood and behavior, including interactions with other people. Testosterone regulates pro-active and re-active aspects of aggression. Probably, both high and low levels of testosterone may contribute to the neurobiology of suicide in various patient populations. The effects of endogenous and exogenous testosterone on suicidality in patients with bipolar disorder need further investigation. The aim of this commentary article is to provide a commentary on the author’s work on the topic, summarize the literature on testosterone, bipolar disorder, and suicide, and encourage future research on this poorly studied topic.
... The small body of literature that does exist suggests help-seeking for preventing suicide is low and services are underutilized. 22,[31][32][33] Yet, despite the increasing number of deaths by suicide and high rates of suicide ideation and attempts among middle-aged and older adults, 34 little is known about the aging population's patterns of help-seeking (e.g., prevalence, types, and pathways), or the impact of suicide ideation and/or suicidal behavior to service contact and/or use. 35,36 Thus, given that help-seeking behavior can mitigate suicide risk and may vary by age among adults, 27 it is important to obtain a refined understanding of the various factors that hinder or promote helpseeking behaviors. ...
Full-text available
Background and Objectives Suicide has become a major public health concern worldwide and in the United States. Rates of suicide increase during the life course and are highest among middle- to old-age adults. Help-seeking represents a crucial coping mechanism that can mitigate suicide risk. Yet, less is known about suicide risk help-seeking, especially among these age groups. To address this knowledge gap, a systematic review of existing literature was performed to obtain a refined understanding of help-seeking for suicide risk among middle- to old-age adults. Research Design and Methods Using PRISMA guidelines, electronic databases, and key journals with suicide and/or gerontology focuses were searched to identify peer-reviewed publications in English between 2010-2020. A total of 4,732 unduplicated publications were screened for relevance based on titles and abstracts and of which, 52 were reviewed in full text. Results 24 articles met inclusion criteria and were included in qualitative synthesis. These articles discussed a range of topics, including prevalence of service utilization, service use prior to suicide death, and correlates of help-seeking. In general, prevalence of service utilization was low and varied by suicidal history (e.g., higher prevalence among individuals with a history of suicide attempt than those with suicide ideation only). Key facilitators (e.g., current or history of suicidal thoughts, plan, or attempt) and barriers (e.g., stigma) for service use and help-seeking were also identified. Discussion and Implications Findings highlight the need for future studies and tailored services to improve age-appropriate and culturally responsive suicide prevention and intervention strategies for middle- to old-age adults.
... On the other hand, an individual with a history of previous suicide attempts and frequent and persistent suicidal thoughts, without planning, with no impulsiveness or abuse/dependence of alcohol or other drugs, shows moderate risk. Finally, the individual considered low risk would be the one with no history of previous attempt, suicidal ideation, and no planning [11][12][13][14][15]. ...
Full-text available
Introdução: O suicídio é um problema global e grave. É considerado um fenômeno multidimensional e sua incidência está relacionada à aspectos socioeconômicos e culturais. Objetivo: Identificar o perfil epidemiológico suicida e avaliar o aumento de casos de suicídio na cidade de Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brasil, entre 2012 a 2020. Métodos: Tratou-se de um estudo observacional e retrospectivo com dados coletados sistematicamente e cedidos pela Secretaria de Estado de Justiça e Segurança Pública. Resultados: Verificou-se a associação entre sexo e suicídio (p<0,0001) e ser homem aumentou a chance desse desfecho (RP= 2,731; IC95%= 2,057 – 3,623). A faixa etária de maior incidência foi entre 20 e 39 anos. Os meios mais utilizados nas ocorrências foram: substâncias químicas (p<0,0001), asfixia (p<0,0001) e armas brancas e de fogo (p=0,004). O ano de 2019 obteve a maior taxa de suicídio geral observada durante o período (10.43 por 100.000 habitantes), que vinha aumentando desde 2016. Conclusão: O perfil epidemiológico suicida observado caracterizou-se por homens, na faixa etária entre 20 a 39 anos, pelo método de asfixia. Ademais houve aumento das taxas de suicídio na população geral do município.
... harm or attempted suicide, 4 has been associated with reduced risk of repeat suicidal behaviours. 5,6 There is a close relationship between self-harm and suicide in older adults. Therefore, in this paper Aftercare refers to care following self-harm of any intent, including suicide attempts. ...
Objectives: Self-harm and suicide are closely related in older adults, highlighting the opportunity for Aftercare interventions in targeted suicide prevention. The study aims were to explore strengths and shortfalls of current Aftercare services for older adults from the perspective of key stakeholders and researchers; and inform a set of guiding principles for older persons' Aftercare. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with a convenience sample of older people with lived experience of self-harm, clinicians and suicide researchers (n = 22). Interviews were focussed on current practice (strengths and limitations), potential improvements, and identifying the core components of an acceptable Aftercare model. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and subjected to a reflexive thematic analysis grounded in interpretive description. Results: Current practice strengths included validation, a person-centred approach and optimising aftercare delivery. Limitations included ageism, practical limitations (lack of service awareness, fragmented service provision, barriers to access, and traumatising approaches), and limited services, funding and training. Overarching themes included anti-ageism; anti-stigma; empowerment and agency; conveying hope; patience and pace; accessible; and finding purpose: connections and meaningful activity. Conclusions: Older people who have self-harmed have complex, individualised needs. They sit within intersecting systems traversing healthcare, support services, family, and the social environment. Systemic, coordinated Aftercare founded upon core principles of anti-ageism, anti-stigma, partnership, empowerment, accessibility and provision of connections and meaning are needed.
Launched in 2011 by the US National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, Zero Suicide emerged as an aspirational goal designed to catalyze transformational change, a suicide care model with specific practices for health systems to employ, and a movement seeking to make health care settings safer and more compassionate for people with suicidal thoughts and urges. Zero Suicide fills the gaps that patients at risk for suicide often fall through by using evidence-based tools, systematic practices, training, and embedded workflows. Continuous process improvement drives this model to ensure organizations deliver quality care, routinely examine outcomes, and remain committed to fidelity. Leadership that is dedicated to suicide prevention as a core responsibility of health care is critical. Health care programs that have implemented Zero Suicide are a version of high-reliability organizations (HROs) that via relentless quality improvement and attention to detail are able to perform high-risk work in complex domains without serious accidents or catastrophic events. The realization that suicide deaths for those under care is preventable, coupled with the availability of best practices and tools to implement these strategies, means quality and effective suicide care cannot be ignored. Included in this chapter is a description of the birth of the Zero Suicide model as a roadmap for health care systems, the rationale for the components of the model, the results of early adopters of Zero Suicide, and future directions for suicide care in health care systems.
Late-life suicide constitutes a serious public health problem. Globally, older adults experience very high suicide rates nearly everywhere. The aging process influences suicidal behavior by posing to individuals several different types of challenges, such as physical frailty, dependence, losses, etc., making of suicide in old age a phenomenon with peculiar characteristics. This chapter proposes an overview of epidemiological data with risk and protective factors, and specifically analyzes universal, selective, and indicated prevention interventions for this population group.
Psychologically informed groups are often seen as a timely way to meet the needs of many. However, attendance is often low. This paper examines factors influencing this and potential solutions to inform service delivery and improve older adult patients’ experience.
Full-text available
Approximately 50% of patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder attempt suicide, and approximately 10% die of suicide. Study results suggest that clozapine therapy significantly reduces suicidal behavior in these patients. METHODS: A multicenter, randomized, international, 2-year study comparing the risk for suicidal behavior in patients treated with clozapine vs olanzapine was conducted in 980 patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, 26.8% of whom were refractory to previous treatment, who were considered at high risk for suicide because of previous suicide attempts or current suicidal ideation. To equalize clinical contact across treatments, all patients were seen weekly for 6 months and then biweekly for 18 months. Subsequent to randomization, unmasked clinicians at each site could make any interventions necessary to prevent the occurrence of suicide attempts. Suicidal behavior was assessed at each visit. Primary end points included suicide attempts (including those that led to death), hospitalizations to prevent suicide, and a rating of "much worsening of suicidality" from baseline. Masked raters, including an independent suicide monitoring board, determined when end point criteria were achieved. RESULTS: Suicidal behavior was significantly less in patients treated with clozapine vs olanzapine (hazard ratio, 0.76; 95% confidence interval, 0.58-0.97; P =.03). Fewer clozapine-treated patients attempted suicide (34 vs 55; P =.03), required hospitalizations (82 vs 107; P =.05) or rescue interventions (118 vs 155; P =.01) to prevent suicide, or required concomitant treatment with antidepressants (221 vs 258; P =.01) or anxiolytics or soporifics (301 vs 331; P =.03). Overall, few of these high-risk patients died of suicide during the study (5 clozapine vs 3 olanzapine-treated patients; P =.73). CONCLUSIONS: Clozapine therapy demonstrated superiority to olanzapine therapy in preventing suicide attempts in patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder at high risk for suicide. Use of clozapine in this population should lead to a significant reduction in suicidal behavior.
As part of the current trend in suicide research to focus on specific high-risk groups (1), we have been studying suicide in schizophrenia (2–7). In addition to reviewing the literature (2), we have identified risk factors (3–5), considered the influence of depression and hopelessness (6), and examined the differences between attempters and completed suicides (7). This work, along with that of Roy (8) and others (9–15), enables us to identify high-risk patients rather than to predict specific suicides (16).
Objective: To evaluate whether a campaign to increase public knowledge about depression (beyondblue: the national depression initiative) has influenced the Australian public's ability to recognize depression and their beliefs about treatments. Method: Data from national surveys of mental health literacy in 1995 and 2003-04 were analysed to see if states and territories which funded beyondblue (the high exposure states) had greater change than those that did not (the low exposure states). In both surveys, participants were asked what was wrong with a person in a depression case vignette and to give opinions about the likely helpfulness for this person of a range of treatments. In the 2003-04 survey participants were also asked questions to assess awareness of beyondblue. Results: Awareness of beyondblue in the states that provided funding was found to be around twice the level of those that did not. Using the low-exposure states as a control, the high-exposure states had greater change in beliefs about some treatments, particularly counselling and medication, and about the benefits of help-seeking in general. Recognition of depression improved greatly at a national level, but slightly more so in the high-exposure states. Conclusions: The data are consistent with beyondblue having had a positive effect on some beliefs about depression treatment.
Background: The age, sex, and ethnic distribution of adolescents who commit suicide is significantly different from that of the general population. The present study was designed to examine psychiatric risk factors and the relationship between them and demographic variables.Methods: A case-control, psychologic autopsy study of 120 of 170 consecutive subjects (age, <20 years) who committed suicide and 147 community age-, sex-, and ethnic-matched control subjects who had lived in the Greater New York (NY) area.Results: By using parent informants only, 59% of subjects who committed suicide and 23% of control subjects who met DSM-III criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis, 49% and 26%, respectively, had had symptoms for more than 3 years, and 46% and 29%, respectively, had had previous contact with a mental health professional. Best-estimate rates, based on multiple informants for these parameters, for suicides only, were 91%, 52%, and 46%, respectively. Previous attempts and mood disorder were major risk factors for both sexes; substance and/or alcohol abuse was a risk factor for males only. Mood disorder was more common in females, substance and/or alcohol abuse occurred exclusively in males (62% of 18-to 19-year-old suicides). The prevalence of a psychiatric diagnosis and, in particular, substance and/or alcohol abuse increased with age.Conclusion: A limited range of diagnoses—most commonly a mood disorder alone or in combination with conduct disorder and/or substance abuse—characterizes most suicides among teenagers.