Suicide rates have risen approximately 27% over the last 15 years, and suicide is the second most common cause of death among 15- to 34-year-olds. Alarmingly, 80% of individuals who died by suicide were in contact with a healthcare professional during the year prior to death, and suicide rates are alarmingly high during the period immediately following discharge from the hospital. As such, there are seemingly missed opportunities across many healthcare settings for preventing suicide. Given these alarming statistics and the evident urgent need for practice improvement, a panel of experts, as part of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, has recently published guidelines aimed at improving suicide prevention across a range of health care organizations, including primary care, emergency room, and inpatient and outpatient mental health care settings. These new guidelines identify the current gaps in suicide prevention strategies and make evidence-based recommendations for simple, cost-effective measures that may significantly reduce the alarming number of completed suicides (Table). In addition to the general guidelines that seek to ensure that suicide prevention is a core component of healthcare services, the authors also detail out specific recommendations for primary care, outpatient behavioral health care, inpatient behavioral health care, and emergency departments regarding how to develop emphasis, identification and assessment, safety planning, means reduction, and caring contact strategies. Once fully implemented, it is hoped that these new guidelines will reduce the suicide rate and help to save many individual lives from the tragedy of suicide.
National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Recommended Standard Care for People with Suicide Risk: Making Health Care Suicide Safe. Full text
How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also can provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.