Conference Coverage

Suicide prevention gets ‘standard care’ recommendations



But often the indicators of impending suicide are missed or not acted on. The recommendations cite the “myth” that asking about suicide encourages completion, a misperception that contributes to a “failure to ask about suicide risk” on the part of health care professionals, the recommendations said. The document also highlighted the idea that, “most health care professionals are not aware of newly developed brief interventions for suicide, leading to the assumption that they should not ask about suicide because there is nothing practical that can be done in ordinary health care settings.”

Dr. Bart Andrews of Health Response Mitchel L. Zoler/MDedge News

Dr. Bart Andrews

“There is an attitudinal problem about suicide prevention. We have evidence-based interventions, but they are not used,” said Bart Andrews, PhD, a member of the recommendations-writing panel and vice president at Behavioral Health Response, a mental health hotline and mobile response company based in St. Louis. “I think the recommendations present doable standard care.”

One limitation of the recommendations is that they might be interpreted as “standard of care” for medicolegal purposes, warned Alan L. Berman, PhD, during the session’s discussion period. In addition, the evidence base for some of the recommended procedures is not very strong, such as risk stratification, said Dr. Berman, a clinical psychologist and former executive director of the American Association of Suicidology.

Dr. Hogan, Dr. Andrews, and Dr. Berman had no disclosures.

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