The Suicidal Patient: Evaluation and Management

Link to article at PubMed

Am Fam Physician. 2021 Apr 1;103(7):417-421.


Suicide rates in the United States increased from 20% to 30% between 2005 and 2015, and family physicians need evidence-based resources to address this growing clinical concern. Asking high-risk patients (e.g., patients with previous suicide attempts, substance misuse, low social support) about suicidal intent leads to better outcomes and does not increase the risk of suicide. There is insufficient evidence to support routine screening. Important elements of the patient history include the intent, plan, and means; availability of social support; previous attempts; and the presence of comorbid psychiatric illness or substance misuse. After intent has been established, inpatient and outpatient management should include ensuring patient safety and medical stabilization, activating support networks, and initiating therapy for psychiatric diseases. Care plans for patients with chronic suicidal ideation include these same steps and referral for specialty care. In the event of a completed suicide, physicians should provide support for family members who may be experiencing grief complicated by guilt, while also activating support networks and risk management systems.


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