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December 1958

Suicide and the Medical Community

Author Affiliations

San Francisco

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1958;80(6):776-781. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1958.02340120112017

Doctors have been reminded of their role in the prevention of suicide for decades. They have been advised, admonished, instructed, and exhorted to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression and to appreciate the impressive implications of statistics showing suicide to be a major cause of death. And the suicide rate has shown a steady over-all decline. The year 1956 saw a record low in the United States of 9.7 suicides per 100,000 population,1 as compared with 11.2 per 100,000 in 1945 and 15.6 in 1930, and 1957 figures promise a continued decline. Is this trend the fruit of a preventive effort by the medical community? Are doctors responding by recognizing potentially suicidal persons earlier than before, and taking steps to forestall suicide? Or does the role of the doctor continue unchanged, while increasing provision for economic and social security, as well as ever greater comforts in everyday living,

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