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March 19, 2014

Focusing Suicide Prevention on Periods of High Risk

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York
  • 2Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 3School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 4The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice, Columbus, Ohio
  • 5The Ohio State University, Columbus
JAMA. 2014;311(11):1107-1108. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.501

Although antismoking campaigns, cancer screening programs, and AIDS prevention initiatives can point to lives saved to measure their success, the overall annual suicide rate in the United States from 2000 through 2010 has increased from 10.4 per 100 000 persons to 12.1 per 100 000 persons, resulting in approximately 38 000 deaths.1 Progress in the prevention of suicide has been limited by the large number, high prevalence, and wide distribution of suicide risk factors and the inherent challenges associated with financing and mounting large-scale, coordinated suicide prevention programs. Whether efforts focus on societal targets (such as limiting access to lethal methods) or aim at clinical targets (such as improving the community detection and treatment of mood, anxiety, or substance use disorders), achieving a reduction in the rate of suicide has proven to be an elusive public health goal.

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