10 September 2008

Low-cost prevention of repeated suicide attempts

The vast majority (85%) of deaths due to suicide occur in low and middle-income countries.

The vast majority (85%) of deaths due to suicide occur in low and middle-income countries. While wealthy, industrialised countries provide sophisticated psychotherapeutic treatment, poorer countries have little to nothing to offer those who have survived suicide attempts.

New findings published this month show, however, that poor countries can considerably improve prevention of repeated attempts at suicide. Providing an information session and supportive ongoing contact to people who have attempted suicide, such as telephone calls, can significantly reduce these deaths, according to the study published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

"People who make attempts at suicide often end up in emergency rooms. But in low to middle-income countries, if there are no complications, patients are discharged after being treated for their injuries with no referral to mental health services," says study author Alexandra Fleischmann.

"However, by providing the patient with information and following up with telephone calls, further attempts can be prevented and lives can be saved," Fleischmann says.

The study was conducted in Brazil, China India, Islamic Republic of Iran and Sri Lanka from January 2002 to October 2005. - World Health Organisation

For help, contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group's toll-free helpline: 0800 567 567 567.

September 2008

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