Online mental health programs – promising tools for suicide prevention
Web-based self-help programs targeting depression are showing promise in reducing suicidal behaviour. Although these might be used at a community level, they have potential as complements to care within general practice.
Suicidal behaviour is a significant global public health concern, and is associated with high levels of distress, disability and burden on the health system. In Australia, suicide was the 15th most common cause of death in 2011, and the leading cause of mortality for those aged 18 to 44 years. A total of 2273 people in Australia took their own lives in 2011, with males accounting for three-quarters of these. Recent US data show that suicide rates are increasing, most substantially in middle-aged adults, and suggest this trend may be linked to economic downturn. More than 90% of suicides are associated with psychiatric disorder. However, nonclinical risk factors are also important, including divorce, unemployment, financial problems and indigenous status.