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December 3, 1973

Suicide Attitudes

Author Affiliations

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Cleveland

JAMA. 1973;226(10):1230. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03230100052023

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To the Editor.—  Rockwell and O'Brien ("Physicians' Knowledge and Attitudes About Suicide," 225:1347, 1973) stated some elementary facts about suicide and the medical profession:We know that some 75% of all suicides have consulted a physician before their act and from 60% to 74% of suicide attempters have been treated recently by their physician. Perhaps as many as 10% see their physician on the day of or just prior to their suicide.Somehow missed is the most obvious point of such a statement. Reconsider, for example, their statement in the context of this one: "We know that some 75% of all rheumatic fever cases have been preceded by sore throats in the patient or immediate family members."If etiological significance is apparent in the latter statement, then why not in the one by Rockwell and O'Brien? The answer, of course, may be the intolerable, unthinkable, and painful recognition that some