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November 6, 1987

Attempted Suicide: A Practical Guide to Its Nature and Management

JAMA. 1987;258(17):2441. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400170127044

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As its title indicates, this work is devoted to the care of those individuals who survive attempted self-harm. The experience in this country and in the United Kingdom, on which the work is based, shows that about nine of ten attempters do so with ingested medications. The other attempts are through various methods of self-injury, eg, wrist-cutting or hanging. A repetition of the suicide attempt is common, particularly in the first three months after a first episode. Among individuals attempting suicide, a small proportion, perhaps 2%, are "chronic repeaters," carrying out several attempts and often frustrating treatment efforts to ameliorate their condition.

Individuals attempting suicide present a major demand on the health care system in terms of their direct medical management and their need for followup care. The suicide attempts seen in hospital emergency settings are only a partial view of the problem, since a large number of suicide attempters