Trending Clinical Topic: Suicide Prevention

Ryan Syrek


September 20, 2019

Each week, we identify one top search term, speculate as to what caused its popularity, and provide an infographic on a related condition. If you have thoughts about what's trending and why, feel free to share them with us on Twitter or Facebook.

An annual effort to raise awareness, information about a rapid treatment option, and several new guidelines helped make suicide prevention this week's top trending clinical topic. In the United States, September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month. The intention is to help further reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues that can lead to suicide. The suicide rate in America increased 30% from 2000 to 2016. Worldwide, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds.

Some news from Denmark is potentially encouraging. Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) at imminent risk for suicide were shown to have experienced rapid benefit from esketamine nasal spray. More than 450 patients with MDD at risk for suicide were included in two phase 3 trials of the medication, which was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Reduction in suicidal thoughts between the treatment group compared with the placebo group emerged as early as 4 hours after esketamine use and lasted for 25 days. Although these differences were not significant, researchers said that the results were generally encouraging, especially for future studies.

In terms of guidelines for prevention, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense updated clinical practice guidelines for the assessment and management of patients at risk for suicide and published a systematic review of the literature upon which the update is based. The guidelines include algorithms and recommendations for assessment and management that also clearly appraise the strength of the recommendations. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence  also recently released new guidelines to reduce suicide rates and help people affected by a suspected suicide. The guidance suggests an emphasis on prevention partnerships to help those at risk, as well as tailored support for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one or are otherwise affected by suicide.

Although the increased incidence and challenges in providing care can be discouraging, a recent commentary served as a reminder that steps can be taken in healthcare settings to reduce suicide risk in patients. One of those steps is increasing awareness of important information related to suicide prevention, which makes the fact that it is this week's top trending clinical topic all the more encouraging.

Read more about suicide prevention.


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