Preventing suicide and premature death by education and treatment

J Affect Disord. 2001 Jan;62(1-2):123-9. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(00)00356-6.


Suicide is a leading cause of mortality. It is, in principle, preventable - given the fact that we possess effective treatments for depressive illness, the major contributor to such mortality. Nonetheless, complex logistic problems have prevented the institution of successful suicide prevention programs. The present review summarizes the author's work on the island of Gotland in Sweden, where the small size of the population permitted the institution of an educational and treatment program aimed at the general medical practitioners. The program was successful in reducing suicide rates by 60%. This was accompanied by reduction of different indices measuring depressive morbidity. Prevention was successful for as long as the program was instituted. The author provides his reflections on the public health implications of his data - particularly for Eastern Europe which is experiencing widespread stress in the workplace and in economic situations. More hypothetically, he presents his views on a serotonin-mediated 'male suicide syndrome'.

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / mortality
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing*
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Care Team
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / prevention & control*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Sweden
  • Treatment Outcome