Monday, August 12, 2013

How to prevent suicide     
      Suicidal behavior can occur due to a combination of existential reasons, biological vulnerabilities, and environmental factors. The existential reasons include lack of satisfaction with current life (health, finances, social importance), lack of hope for the future, and not being/feeling needed (especially by progeny and family). The biological vulnerabilities include mental health issues and addictions, including a genetic vulnerability to suicide as reflected in a family history of suicides among biological relatives. The environmental factors include increased stress and pain (physical and psychological), as well as cues that enable this behavior (previous attempts, knowing examples of other people who have done it, living in an environment and (sub-) culture where suicide is an option, seems attractive, and the means are available). 
      The opposites of each of the above items are protective. Individuals can have a mixture of risk factors and protective factors.
      A simple checklist of all these factors, tabulating risk factors and protective factors, along with improved objective biomarkers, should lead to very high levels of identification of individuals at risk, combining specificity with sensitivity of detection. This would permit preemptive intervention- changing and saving lives.
      We are working on that.