Focus Suicide Prevention on Periods of High Risk

April 16, 2014

Suicide prevention efforts should be focused on times of high risk, writes Mark Olfson, MD, in a recent viewpoint published in JAMA.

The time immediately following discharge from a psychiatric hospital poses an extraordinarily high risk of suicide, for example, and Dr. Olfson, professor of psychiatry at P&S, writes

[T]here is room for improvement in patient transitions from inpatient to outpatient psychiatric care. Nationally, only about half of psychiatric inpatients receive any outpatient mental health care during the first week following hospital discharge and only about two-thirds receive mental health care during the first month.

Dr. Olfson also recommends enhanced training of emergency physicians in the management of patients who have deliberately harmed themselves, another group at high risk of suicide. About 15 percent of all people who die by suicide had visited the emergency department in the previous year for self-harm, but these patients are often discharged without mental health evaluations.

Read the entire viewpoint—coauthored by Steven Marcus, PhD, of Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Jeffrey Bridge, PhD, of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Ohio State University—in the March 19, 2014 issue of JAMA.


suicide prevention