Suicide Prevention: Are Some Strategies More Effective Than Others?

July 22, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​No single suicide prevention strategy shows superiority over others, but many, including some pharmaceutical interventions and restriction of access to lethal means, are effective according to a systematic review published in the July 2016 issue of Lancet Psychiatry. The authors used PubMed and the Cochrane Library to search multiple terms related to suicide prevention for studies published between 2005 and 2014. They assessed seven interventions: public and physician education, media strategies, screening, restricting access to means of suicide, treatments, and internet or hotline support. They then looked for impact on primary outcomes (behavior such as suicide, attempted suicide, or suicidal ideation) and intermediate outcomes (seeking treatment, identification of an at-risk individual, antidepressant prescription rates, and referrals). After analyzing 1,797 studies, the authors found that evidence for a link between restricted access to lethal means and suicide prevention had strengthened since 2005. Restricting access to analgesics was also effective (overall decrease in suicides of 43% since 2005), as was limiting access to locations a person may jump from, such as a bridge (decrease of 86% since 2005).

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