Office Visits Common Before Suicide Attempt

Office Visits Common Before Suicide Attempt
Office Visits Common Before Suicide Attempt

(HealthDay News) — Many people who attempt suicide have a health care visit in the weeks or months beforehand, which suggests health visits may provide opportunities for suicide prevention, researchers report in a new study published in the May issue of Medical Care.

Brian Ahmedani, Ph.D., L.M.S.W., of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, and colleagues examined data from 22,387 Americans who attempted suicide between 2009 and 2011. The study authors found that 38 percent had a health care visit within a week before the attempt, 64 percent had a health visit within a month before the attempt, and nearly 95 percent had a health visit within a year before the attempt. The proportion of visits made by people with a mental health or substance abuse diagnosis was 25 percent within a week, 44 percent within a month, and 73 percent within a year before a suicide attempt, the findings showed.

Significant racial/ethnic differences emerged during the study. Whites were more likely to have had a health visit or a mental health appointment within a week before a suicide attempt, compared with people in other racial/ethnic groups, the investigators found. Asian-Americans were least likely to make any type of health visit in the year before attempting suicide. While Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders had the highest rate of hospital admissions and emergency department visits before a suicide attempt, they had the lowest rate of mental health or substance abuse diagnoses.

"This research provides essential information to aid suicide prevention efforts in health care systems," Ahmedani and colleagues said in a journal news release. They also pointed out that their findings about racial/ethnic differences show the need for "culturally competent mental illness detection and treatment" in minority groups.

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