Aim: To examine rates of contact with primary and mental health care prior to suicide in men and women and across a range of age categories.
Method: The authors performed a systematic review of 44 studies from 2000 to 2017 of which 36 reported rates on contact with primary health care and 14 reported on contact with mental health care prior to suicide.
Results: Contact with primary health care was highest in the year prior to suicide with an average contact rate of 80%. At one month, the average rate was 44%. The lifetime contact rate for mental health care was 57%, and 31% in the final 12 months. In general, women and those over 50 years of age had the highest rates of contact with health care prior to suicide.
Conclusions: Contact with primary health care prior to suicide is common even in the final month before death. The findings presented in this study highlight the importance of placing suicide prevention strategies and interventions within the primary health care setting.
Keywords: Primary health services; gender and age differences; mental health; suicide.