Practical suicide-risk management for the busy primary care physician

Mayo Clin Proc. 2011 Aug;86(8):792-800. doi: 10.4065/mcp.2011.0076. Epub 2011 Jun 27.


Suicide is a public health problem and a leading cause of death. The number of people thinking seriously about suicide, making plans, and attempting suicide is surprisingly high. In total, primary care clinicians write more prescriptions for antidepressants than mental health clinicians and see patients more often in the month before their death by suicide. Treatment of depression by primary care physicians is improving, but opportunities remain in addressing suicide-related treatment variables. Collaborative care models for treating depression have the potential both to improve depression outcomes and decrease suicide risk. Alcohol use disorders and anxiety symptoms are important comorbid conditions to identify and treat. Management of suicide risk includes understanding the difference between risk factors and warning signs, developing a suicide risk assessment, and practically managing suicidal crises.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / organization & administration
  • Risk Management / organization & administration*
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • Suicide, Attempted / prevention & control
  • United States


  • Antidepressive Agents