Thursday, July 16, 2015

Study Finds Only Half of Those With Suicidal Thoughts Seek Mental Health Services

Connecting individuals who are at high risk of suicide to effective mental health treatment can be lifesaving. But, as a study published online Wednesday in Psychiatric Services in Advance found, many with thoughts of suicide fail to access mental health services.

Approximately half of individuals reporting past-year suicide ideation, plans, or attempts reported contact with mental health services (inpatient, outpatient, or psychiatric prescription medication) over the same period, according to an analysis of data from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by researchers at Florida State University.

For the study, the researchers examined the sociodemographic characteristics and past-year reports of general health, psychological distress, depression, and mental health service use by adults aged 18 or older, including 2,126 who had reported past-year suicide ideation, 690 who reported they had made past-year suicide plans, and 345 who reported past-year suicide attempts. Findings were compared with those of individuals who reported no past-year suicide ideation (N=35,106).

Those most likely to report contact with mental health services in the past year included females, non-Hispanic whites, those in poor health, and those who reported past-year psychological distress or a past-year diagnosis of a major depressive episode. The authors noted that “no differences in service use across groups emerged on the basis of poverty or marital or health insurance status, with one exception: those with health insurance in the ideation group were more likely to use services than those without insurance.

“Moving forward, efforts must be made to develop and rigorously test programs targeted at increasing service use among suicidal adults,” the authors continued. “Given the correlates of service use identified by this study, effective approaches may involve improving access to care for those without insurance, implementing screening and referral procedures in primary care and emergency department settings, and crafting interventions that are culturally sensitive and acceptable to males.”

For more on efforts to reach patients who may be suicidal, see the Psychiatric News article “Mayo Program Teaches Residents to Empathize With Suicidal Patients.”
(Image: andreiuc88/


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.