Suicide risk in primary care: identification and management in older adults
Health Services for the Aged
The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (2012) has set a goal to reduce suicides by 20% within 5 years. Suicide rates are higher in older adults compared to most other age groups, and the majority of suicide completers have visited their primary care physician in the year before suicide. Primary care is an ideal setting to identify suicide risk and initiate mental health care. We review risk factors for late-life suicide; methods to assess for different levels of suicidality; and recent research developments regarding both effective assessment and management of suicide risk among older primary care patients. We highlight that broader scale screening of suicide risk may be considered in light of findings that suicidality can occur even in the absence of major risk factors like depression. We also highlight collaborative care models targeting suicide risk, and recent innovative interventions that aim to prevent the development of suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior.