According to the American Association of Suicidology, suicide rates in the US increased in 2009 (the most recent year for which data are available), disrupting the recent trend of stable or decreasing suicide rates. The new annual suicide rate of 12.0 per 100,000 people translates into 100.8 suicides per day and 1 suicide every 14.3 minutes. Here you will find tools and tips to help identify patients at risk.
As clinicians on the front lines, psychiatrists must assess for suicide risk–even during brief “medication-check” appointments. The Suicide Risk Screening Alert can help you quickly identify patients at risk for suicide. Especially useful in identifying suicide risk in new patients and in those in the early stages of medication management, the clinical tool raises the red flag about patients who require further screening and/or intervention.
Vulnerabilities in the hospital setting can lead to inpatient suicide, which accounts for about 6% of annual suicides in the US. Newly admitted patients are especially vulnerable to suicide risk. Many of these patients perceive the need for hospitalization as a personal failure. New patients also may find the experience as depersonalizing, threatening, and socially alienating. In addition to avoiding “15-minute medication checks” in patients with uncertain risk levels or those at high risk, the Inpatient Suicide Prevention Recommendations Tipsheet guides clinicians in best practices to reduce risk.
Patients with borderline personality disorder present special clinical challenges. Like the boy who cried wolf, their multiple crises and minor incidents of self-harm and threats can lead clinicians to dismiss real indications of suicide risk. To help assess and minimize suicide risk in these patients, you can turn to the tips presented in Management Strategies to Minimize Suicide Risk in BPD.
Finally, helping colleagues in other medical disciplines overcome myths associated with suicide can go a long way in recognizing and reducing risk. Similarly, participating in awareness activities in your community is another way you can make a difference. Learn more about such opportunities here. Information can also be found at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center; the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Psychopharmacological Treatment to Reduce Suicide Risk: A Brief Review of Available Medication
Improving Suicide Risk Assessment
Suicide Assessment: Uncovering Suicidal Intent—A Sophisticated Art