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Treatment of attempted suicide and suicidal patients in primary care 

Treatment of attempted suicide and suicidal patients in primary care
Treatment of attempted suicide and suicidal patients in primary care

Zoltán Rihmer

and Wolfgang Rutz

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date: 17 May 2022

Although suicidal behaviour is a rare event in society in general, it is very common among psychiatric patients who contact their general practioner (GP) before the suicide event. The most common current psychiatric diagnosis among suicide victims and attempters is major depressive episode (56–87 per cent). The current prevalence of major depressive episodes in GP practice is around 10 per cent, but at least half of these cases are not recognized and treated adequately by GPs. Successful acute and long-term treatment of depression significantly reduces the risk of suicidal behaviour. Given that more than half of all suicide victims contact their GPs within four weeks before their death, GPs play an important role in suicide prevention. Several large-scale community studies demonstrate that education of GPs on the diagnosis and appropriate pharmacotherapy of depression, particularly in combination with psychological interventions and public education, improve the identification and treatment of depression and reduces the frequency of suicidal behaviour in the areas served by trained GPs.

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