Family doctors can help reduce the rate of suicide by taking the first and most crucial step - spotting the problem, informing family members and referring the victim for therapy.
A new review in the August issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings
) by researchers at Mayo Clinic and the University of Washington, Seattle (http://www.washington.edu
) 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," says Timothy Lineberry, M.D., (http://www.mayoclinic.org/bio/14258641.html
) psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic. "Yet, too often a patient with clear risk factors isn't asked whether they are having thoughts of suicide."
People at risk for suicide (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/suicide/DS01062
) often are being treated for depression, anxiety or substance misuse. 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," Dr. Lineberry says. "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.