Psychological medicine

Dealing with the suicidal patient

Diana McKay



Australia has one of the highest rates of youth suicide in the world.

Article Extract

  • If you suspect someone may have suicidal feelings, ASK. You will not make your patient more likely to suicide – in fact you are making a crucial step in reducing his or her risk of suicide.
  • Assessment of suicidal thinking is mandatory in any patient presenting with depressive symptoms.
  • People with suicidal thoughts may also have thoughts of harming others. It is important to ask about this, particularly in parents with young children (e.g. women with postnatal depression).
  • Liaison with others is crucial in managing the suicidal patient. As well as the support from a community mental health team or psychiatrist, the patient’s family or loved ones should be involved if at all possible.