Primary Care Important to Suicide PreventionA new Mayo Clinic paper suggests the family doctor may be the “X” factor for reducing the number of suicides.

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, and every year, millions of Americans think about taking their own lives. Usually some warning signs exist. Often a simple question from a family doctor can be enough to start a person toward help and treatment.

The new review highlights the opportunity primary care physicians have to establish a successful treatment plan for these patients.

“As doctors, we know patients don’t suddenly consider suicide because we ask if they’ve thought about death,” said co-author Timothy Lineberry, M.D. “Yet, too often a patient with clear risk factors isn’t asked whether they are having thoughts of suicide.”

People receiving care for depression, anxiety or substance misuse are often at risk for suicide. In fact, nearly 45 percent of those dying by suicide saw their primary care physician weeks or days before death.

“A patient with symptoms of depression, severe anxiety or substance misuse should be asked directly about suicide,” Lineberry said. “Unfortunately, research shows that this happens less than half the time.”

The paper highlights the potential benefits for improving depression treatment and decreasing suicide risk in collaborative care of depression treatment models.

In collaborative care, multidisciplinary teams systematically assess patient progress over time, enhance treatment and follow-up and educate patients.

Source: Mayo Clinic