Suicide Risk Assessment and Prevention: Challenges and Opportunities [2020]

Despite increased access to mental health care for the previously uninsured and expanding evidence-based treatments for mood, anxiety, psychotic, and substance use disorders, suicide is on the rise in the United States. Since 1999, the age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States has increased 33%, from 10.5 per 100,000 standard population to 14.0. As of yet, there are no clinically available biomarkers, laboratory tests, or imaging to assist in diagnosis or the identification of the suicidal individual. Suicide risk assessment remains a high-stakes component of the psychiatric evaluation and can lead to overly restrictive management in the name of prevention or to inadequate intervention because of poor appreciation of the severity of risk. This article focuses primarily on suicide risk assessment and management as a critical first step to prevention, given the fact that more research is needed to identify precision treatments and effective suicide prevention strategies. Suicide risk assessment provides the clinical psychiatrist with an opportunity for therapeutic engagement with the ultimate goals of relieving suffering and preventing suicide.

Eileen P. Ryan, D.O., and Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., Ph.D.
Focus: The Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry, Volume 18, Issue 2, Spring 2020