We reviewed all 112 suicides and self-harm open verdicts in Central Nottinghamshire between 1987 and 1991. The rate of consultation with general practitioners of completed suicides was similar to control patients a year before death. It then increased during the succeeding months, particularly in the month before death, when 41% consulted their general practitioner. A further 12% saw another doctor in their last month. Those who did not consult were more likely to be middle-aged, male, divorced or separated, to have experienced a recent broken relationship, and to show evidence of planning the suicide. Better awareness may have detected and possibly prevented some suicides in consulters. Those who did not consult a doctor had different characteristics. Additional strategies would be needed to prevent these deaths.