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Am J Public Health. 2004 Jan;94(1):37-45.

If suicide is a public health problem, what are we doing to prevent it?

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  • 1Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14642, USA. kerry_knox@urmc.rochester.edu


Although not a disease, suicide is a tragic endpoint of complex etiology and a leading cause of death worldwide. Just as preventing heart disease once meant that specialists treated myocardial infarctions in emergency care settings, in the past decade, suicide prevention has been viewed as the responsibility of mental health professionals within clinical settings. By contrast, over the past 50 years, population-based risk reduction approaches have been used with varying levels of effectiveness to prevent morbidity and mortality associated with heart disease. We examined whether the current urgency to develop effective interventions for suicide prevention can benefit from an understanding of the evolution of population-based strategies to prevent heart disease.

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