Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Statistics show that 38 percent of suicidal adults and 90 percent of youths had visited their primary care physicians in the 12 months prior to committing suicide.
An evidence review finds that while there are screening tools to help physicians identify adults at risk for suicide, there's no evidence that using these screening tools in primary care will actually prevent suicides. In adolescents, there are no proven primary care-relevant screening tools to identify suicide risk.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reviewed evidence for upcoming recommendations on suicide screening and treatment for adults and adolescents and issued a paper.
Finding accurate and feasible screening tools that can be used in the primary care setting could help to identify those at increased risk for suicide so that appropriate preventive measures can be taken. In 2004, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concluded that evidence was insufficient to recommend for or against routine screening by primary care clinicians to detect suicide risk in the general population.
To update its previous recommendation, the Task Force reviewed 56 studies published between January 2002 and July 2012. Although evidence was limited, the researchers found that primary care-feasible screening tools could probably identify adults at increased risk for suicide who need treatment. However, screening tools have limited ability to detect suicide risk in adolescents.
Treatment with psychotherapy reduced the risk for suicide attempts by 32 percent in high-risk adults (e.g., those with a recent suicide attempt), but did not appear to benefit adolescents. No drug treatments were proven effective at reducing suicide risk in adults or adolescents. Here is the draft recommendation statement based on this evidence review