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Suicide Life Threat Behav. 1995 Spring;25(1):82-91.

Suicide prevention from a public health perspective.

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  • 1National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


The public health approach to health problems provides a strong framework and rationale for developing and implementing suicide prevention programs. This approach consists of health-event surveillance to describe the problem, epidemiologic analysis to identify risk factors, the design and evaluation of interventions, and the implementation of prevention programs. The application of each of these components to suicide prevention is reviewed. Suggestions for improving surveillance include encouraging the use of appropriate coding, reviewing suicide statistics at the local level, collecting more etiologically useful information, and placing greater emphasis on analysis of morbidity data. For epidemiologic analysis, greater use could be made of observational studies, and uniform definitions and measures should be developed and adopted. Efforts to develop interventions must include evaluating both the process and the outcome. Finally, community suicide prevention programs should include more than one strategy and, where appropriate, should be strongly linked with the community's mental health resources. With adequate planning, coordination, and resources, and the public health approach can help reduce the emotional and economic costs imposed on society by suicide and suicidal behavior.

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