Objectives: To review the most recent information on completed suicide for the general adult psychiatrist.
Methods: Literature review.
Results: Suicide is the result of a complex interaction of multiple variables. Prediction is highly dependent on clinical evaluation. Predictive factors identify groups better than individuals. Prevention has both clinical and political implications.
Conclusions: Reduced access to lethal methods (historically, from barbiturates to modified vehicle exhaust systems and paracetamol), attention to social factors (such as alcohol availability and employment levels) and clinical vigilance, coupled with adequate treatment of psychiatric disorders and close follow-up, should help to reduce suicide rates. Wider cultural issues (eg. religion) are poorly understood and require further research.