Suicide Screenings: Helpful or Not?
Suicide is quickly ascending to a leading cause of death nationwide, and the latest statistics indicate that primary care physicians are not likely to be much help in neither the identification of suicidal tendencies in patients nor the prevention of the act – particularly in adolescents.
Back in 2004, the US Task Force decided not to recommend routine suicide screenings, and the updated recommendation is not much different. They conclude that although screenings could be helpful in identifying suicidal patients that there is still no evidence that they aid in the prevention of the act itself.
Recent Facts About Suicide Screening and Prevention
In preparation to make fresh recommendations for or against routine suicide screenings by doctors, the US Preventive Services Task Force’s reviewed 56 published studies conceived from 2002-2012. Their overall assessment finds several interesting markers.
- Implementing primary care suicide screening tools might effectively identify adults needing treatment but appear to have limited ability to detect such in youths.
- 38% of adults and 90% of adolescents who attempted suicide had visited their physician during the prior year.
- Psychotherapy reduced the risk of a second attempt in 32% of high-risk adults while no significant benefits are noted in adolescents.
There is Still Help Out There for Our Youth
If you are a youth or the parent of one, these statistics might not give you the best impression initially. However, these figures don’t mean that youths cannot be helped – or that they cannot help themselves – and it certainly doesn’t imply that one needs to become an adult before trying to seek help to find success. It only reinforces the idea that those closest to someone with suicidal thoughts can become the true heroes concerning identification and prevention.
Case and point – if you or someone you know needs a suicide screening, seek expert assistance from a mental health professional rather than relying upon a general physician to make the call.