The tragedy of suicide affects all those involved: family, friends and health professionals. A careful assessment of suicide risk factors in patients in whom it is indicated will guide the clinician in the probability of suicide and assist with decisions concerning management.
Literature’s most famous portrayal of suicide is depicted in William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, in which the suicide of two young lovers is both romanticised and ennobled. The risk is that such behaviour may be viewed by those who are vulnerable as an appealing option when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. In 2010, suicide was the 15th leading cause of death in Australia, accounting for 1.7% of all deaths. Suicide occurs in all age groups, but among the young it is the second most common cause of death, following road trauma.