GPs on the frontline of detecting potential suicides in mentally ill patients
By Catherine Walker
Family doctors may be the vital link for reducing the number of suicides, a new paper suggests.
In the United States suicide is the 11th leading cause of death and every year millions of Americans think about taking their own life. The study shows that there are usually some warning signs and that often a simple question from a family doctor can be enough to put them on the path to treatment and help.
The new review by May Clinic highlights the opportunity that primary care physicians have to establish successful treatment plans for patients who suffer from depression, anxiety and substance abuse. People who suffer from these disorders are often at risk of suicide. Nearly 45% of those dying by suicide saw their primary care physician either weeks or days before their death..
Timothy Lineberry M.D., co-author of the study, said ‘As doctors, we know patients don’t suddenly consider suicide because we ask if they’ve thought about death. Yet too often a patient with clear risk factors isn’t asked whether they are having thoughts of suicide.’
‘A patient with symptoms of depression, severe anxiety or substance misuse should be asked directly about suicide. Unfortunately, research shows that this happen less than half the time’ Lineberry added.