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Aust Fam Physician. 2006 May;35(5):335-8.

Suicide prevention - targeting the patient at risk.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, James Cook University.



Suicide is a major cause of death from adolescence upward. While there has been a concentrated effort to educate families and health workers to be aware of warning signs of pending suicide, there has been limited information or practical strategies available for people at risk of suicide or for those who have suicidal thoughts. Recent acknowledgment of the role of impulsivity in suicide highlights the need for such information.


This article identifies those at risk of suicide and outlines strategies for suicide prevention.


Patients with suicidal thoughts are not an infrequent component of presentations in general practice and present a considerable challenge to the general practitioner because it is very difficult to predict who will make a suicide attempt. There has been much published to assist the GP to identify those at risk, but little to suggest how to assist the patient in such a crisis. Research into the role of impulsivity in suicide would suggest that unless the patient has strategies to confront the suicidal thoughts themselves, they remain at significant risk.

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