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Feature Article

Meeting the challenge of suicide prevention

Robert D Goldney

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Abstract

There was a reduction of about 20% in the number of suicides in Australia between 1997 and 2003, probably attributable to better recognition and treatment of mental disorders by GPs. Continuing vigilance in the detection and management of mental disorders should reduce the number of suicides further.

Key Points

  • Between 2000 and 2500 people die by suicide each year in Australia.
  • Over 90% of suicides are associated with mental disorders.
  • There is now persuasive evidence for the effectiveness of both nonpharmacological and pharmacological treatments in reducing suicidal behaviours.
  • There was a reduction of about 20% in the number of suicides in Australia between the years 1997 and 2003, probably due to better recognition and treatment of mental disorders by GPs.
  • Continuing vigilance in the detection and management of mental disorders should reduce the number of suicides further.
  • More males than females commit suicide, and the highest suicide rates are now in males aged 25 to 44 years, rather than in elderly males.

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