Psychological medicine

Suicide risk assessment in general practice: confronting the limitations

Matthew Large, HANNAH MYLES



Although suicidal ideation and suicide attempts are common, suicide is rare. GPs have traditionally assessed suicide risk factors as a basis for predicting and preventing suicides, but recent meta-analyses have shown the limitations of this approach.

Article Extract

It is not uncommon for a person who has died by suicide to have recently seen a primary care doctor,1,2 and it is widely assumed that GPs have an important role in suicide prevention. Several peer-reviewed publications and GP organisation guidelines suggest that GPs perform a ‘suicide risk assessment’ to identify patients who need more care, referral to specialist services or even hospitalisation.3-7 However, GPs will struggle to find an appropriate suicide risk scale or method to meet this expectation because there are no accepted methods of assessing suicide risk in any setting.

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