Too often, doctors miss suicide's warning signs - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Too often, doctors miss suicide's warning signs

Updated: Feb 27, 2014 02:51 PM
© Comstock / Thinkstock © Comstock / Thinkstock

THURSDAY, Feb. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly 37,000 Americans kill themselves each year, according to federal statistics. But many of those deaths might have been prevented if doctors had been better at picking up on the warning signs of suicide, a new study suggests.

"A national suicide reduction goal may be met if more primary care doctors and specialists receive and use training to identify and treat patients most at risk," study lead author Brian Ahmedani, an assistant scientist in the Center for Health Policy and Health Services Research at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, said in a statement from the health system.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide remains the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and is the leading cause of injury-related death, recently topping deaths tied to car accidents.

However, the new study finds that physicians often fail to spot mental health problems in people who commit suicide, even though most of these people consult with doctors or other health providers in the months before they kill themselves.

In the study, Ahmedani's team looked at the medical records of almost 5,900 health plan members living in eight states who committed suicide between 2000 and 2010.

Eighty-three percent of them had received medical care within the year prior to killing themselves, and 20 percent had seen a health care worker the week before they died. But, they were diagnosed with a mental health problem less than half the time -- 45 percent, Ahmedani's team said.

"The data clearly told us that although a large proportion of those who committed suicide had health system contact in the year before their death, a mental health diagnosis was commonly absent," Ahmedani said. "Greater efforts need to be made to assess mental health and suicide risk. And because most visits occurred in primary care or medical specialty settings, suicide prevention in these clinics would likely reach the largest number of individuals."

The study appears in the February issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

More information

There's more on suicide's warning signs at the American Psychological Association.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow

Fox 28

WSJV-TV FOX 28
58096 County Road 7, South
Elkhart, IN 46517

Switchboard: 574.679.9758
News Phone: 574.679.4545
Station Fax: 574.294.1267
Email: fox28news@fox28.com

All content ©Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WSJV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Heather Stewart at (574) 343-5310. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.