More Study, Primary Care Are Keys to Suicide Prevention. (IOM Suicide Report)

By Perlstein, Steve | Clinical Psychiatry News, August 2002 | Go to article overview

More Study, Primary Care Are Keys to Suicide Prevention. (IOM Suicide Report)


Perlstein, Steve, Clinical Psychiatry News


More and better research, improved monitoring, and enhanced tools and training for primary care physicians are the keys to reducing the 30,000 suicides in the United States annually, according to a report released by the Institute of Medicine.

Problems with treating suicide and suicidality begin with spotty research on its causes and treatments--often because suicidal tendencies are an excluding factor for many studies. The problems continue because primary care physicians are often poorly trained and equipped to spot and help patients who might be suicidal, according to "Reducing Suicide: A National Imperative," a report compiled by the IOM's Committee on Pathophysiology and Prevention of Adolescent and Adult Suicide. Because primary care physicians are often the only caregivers a suicidal patient sees, that's an opportunity lost, the report said.

"Lots of these people see health care individuals before they commit suicide," said Dr. William E. Bunney Jr., cochair of the department of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California, Irvine, and cochair of the IOM committee. "This is a complex problem that has biologic, genetic, and social factors."

Among the report's recommendations:

* The National Institute of Mental Health should lead a network of suicide research population laboratories devoted to interdisciplinary research on suicide and suicide prevention. Because of the low frequency of suicide, the study calls for very large study samples of at least 100,000 individuals, and it says the formation of up to 10 population laboratories is the best way to capture complex interacting variables on suicide such as demographics, culture, socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity. …

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