Emerging Care Priority (2016)

The concept of health care providers’ playing an ongoing instead of visit-oriented role is as useful for suicide prevention as it is for the management of other chronic health conditions. Many individuals who die by suicide were engaged in care or had recent contact with health providers. About 45 percent of those who died by suicide saw a primary care physician in the thirty days before they died.

Hogan, Michael F. and Goldstein Grumet, J. Suicide Prevention: An Emerging Priority For Health Care Health Affairs Journal. June 2016.


Suicide is a significant public health problem. It is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and the rate has risen in recent years. Many suicide deaths are among people recently seen or currently under care in clinical settings, but suicide prevention has not been a core priority in health care. In recent years, new treatment and management strategies have been developed, tested, and implemented in some organizations, but they are not yet widely used. This article examines the feasibility of improving suicide prevention in health care settings. In particular, we consider Zero Suicide, a model for better identification and treatment of patients at risk for suicide. The approach incorporates new tools for screening, treatment, and support; it has been deployed with promising results in behavioral health programs and primary care settings. Broader adoption of improved suicide prevention care may be an effective strategy for reducing deaths by suicide.