What have you heard or read over the past 10 years that has improved you ability to assess and manage suicide risk in your patients?
There has been a paucity of data. What little data there is reviewed in this month's articles.They highlight findings that you should know about. Clinicians seem to cling to the familiar, unless some intense marketing is done.
For instance, are you aware that the current evidence shows that a denial of suicide thoughts, plans, or intent—even a contract for safety—means absolutely nothing in the absence of a full suicide risk assessment?
Yet clinicians seem to rely on these ’reassurances“ from their patients and are shocked when the patient later commits suicide. Why should a patient who is deciding that life is too painful to live tell you the truth? Robert I. Simon, MD, and Daniel W. Shuman, JD, review these facts.
Are you aware that severe psychic anxiety, panic attacks, agitation, and severe insomnia often precede suicide within hours, days, or weeks and can be rapidly modified with treatment?
On the other hand, standard risk factors for suicide such as suicidal ideation, hopelessness, and past suicidal attempts are not good predictors of suicide in the short term. A suicide plan, recent high intent attempt, or refusal to contract for safety may well indicate immediate risk, but a denial of suicidal ideation or intent and a contract for no harm mean absolutely nothing without a full suicide assessment that takes current clinical status, past suicidal tendencies, social support, and willingness to accept help into account.