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Br J Psychiatry. 2011 May;198(5):379-84. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.110.083592.

Impact of screening for risk of suicide: randomised controlled trial.

Author information

1
Reader in Mental Health Services Research, Centre for Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Claybrook Centre, 37 Claybrook Road, London W6 8LN, UK. m.crawford@imperial.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Concerns have been expressed about the impact that screening for risk of suicide may have on a person's mental health.

AIMS:

To examine whether screening for suicidal ideation among people who attend primary care services and have signs of depression increases the short-term incidence of feeling that life is not worth living.

METHOD:

In a multicentre, single-blind, randomised controlled trial, 443 patients in four general practices were randomised to screening for suicidal ideation or control questions on health and lifestyle (trial registration: ISRCTN84692657). The primary outcome was thinking that life is not worth living measured 10-14 days after randomisation. Secondary outcome measures comprised other aspects of suicidal ideation and behaviour.

RESULTS:

A total of 443 participants were randomised to early (n = 230) or delayed screening (n = 213). Their mean age was 48.5 years (s.d. = 18.4, range 16-92) and 137 (30.9%) were male. The adjusted odds of experiencing thoughts that life was not worth living at follow-up among those randomised to early compared with delayed screening was 0.88 (95% CI 0.66-1.18). Differences in secondary outcomes between the two groups were not seen. Among those randomised to early screening, 37 people (22.3%) reported thinking about taking their life at baseline and 24 (14.6%) that they had this thought 2 weeks later.

CONCLUSIONS:

Screening for suicidal ideation in primary care among people who have signs of depression does not appear to induce feelings that life is not worth living.

Comment in

PMID:
21525521
DOI:
10.1192/bjp.bp.110.083592
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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