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J Affect Disord. 1995 Dec 18;35(4):147-52.

Depression and suicide on Gotland. An intensive study of all suicides before and after a depression-training programme for general practitioners.

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  • 1In- and Outpatient Department of Psychiatry XIII, National Institute for Psychiatry and Neurology, Budapest, Hungary.


In 1983 and 1984, the Swedish Committee for the Prevention and Treatment of Depression (PTD) organised a postgraduate training programme on the diagnosis and treatment to all the general practitioners on Gotland, Sweden. In the following years, the frequency of suicide and inpatient care for depression decreased significantly, as well as the frequency of sick leave for depression. The results of the Gotland study have provided evidence for the view that early recognition and adequate treatment of depression is one essential method of suicide prevention (Rutz et al., 1989; Rutz et al., 1992). A detailed retrospective clinical analysis, of all 115 consecutive suicide victims on Gotland between 1981 and 1992 presented in this study, showed that male gender and violent methods were overrepresented. 50 suicides had a DSM-III-R axis I diagnosis and half of them (n = 25) had primary major depression. Bipolar II disorder was relatively overrepresented in this sample. After the PTD programme, the proportion of depressive suicides was significantly lower than before. This finding strongly suggests that the significant decrease in the suicide rate after the PTD programme is a direct result of the robust decrease in depressive suicides of the area served by trained GPs. The practical importance of this finding is briefly discussed.

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