Suicide prevention for high-risk persons who refuse treatment

Suicide Life Threat Behav. Winter 1976;6(4):223-30.


A program was developed to exert a suicide prevention influence on high-risk persons who decline to enter the health care system. There were 3,006 patients admitted to a psychiatric in-patient service because of a depressive or suicidal state who were contacted to determine if the post-discharge plan was followed. Half of those who refused their treatment program were contacted by telephone or letter on a set schedule. The contact was limited to expressing interest in the person's well-being. Mortality in the contact group was compared with the no-contact subjects and with the subjects who had accepted treatment, after 1, 2, 3, and 4 years. Suicidal deaths were found to diverge progressively in the three groups, the treatment subjects showing the highest rates, the no-contact group coming next, and the contact subjects showing the lowest. The observed divergence between the contact and no-contact groups provides tentative evidence that a high-risk population for suicide can be identified and that a system-atic approach to reducing that risk can be applied.

MeSH terms

  • California
  • Communication
  • Community Mental Health Services*
  • Humans
  • Patient Dropouts*
  • Suicide / epidemiology
  • Suicide / prevention & control*