SEATTLE -- Suicide attempt behavior is best viewed in most instances as a chronic condition embedded in long-term psychiatric illness and lifestyle problems, Annette L. Beautrais, Ph.D., asserted in her Edwin S. Shneidman Award lecture at the annual conference of the American Association of Suicidology.
This view--supported by her two large longitudinal studies, as well as by the work of others--is at odds with the short-term crisis intervention approach to suicidal behavior predominant during the past 2 decades.
Crisis intervention for suicide attempters is essential but not sufficient. The crisis intervention model has yielded little payoff in terms of suicide prevention--in fact, rates are climbing in Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, and other places where accurate figures are kept--and there is reason to believe preventive efforts based upon the concept of suicidality as a chronic condition might be more fruitful, said Dr. Beautrais of the Canterbury Suicide Project at Christchurch (New Zealand) School of Medicine.
"Currently, once those who attempt suicide are discharged from hospital after treatment for the medical consequences of their attempt, their psychiatric and …