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Suicide: The primary care provider role
Primary care providers can help to prevent suicide in their patients in various ways:
- Identify and treat depression aggressively.
- Monitor for treatment-emergent suicidality in patients on antidepressant medications.
- Use antidepressants cautiously in adolescents.
- Follow the American Psychiatric Association guidelines for assessing and treating patients with suicidal behaviours. See patients newly started on antidepressants weekly for four weeks, then every two weeks for four weeks, then at 12 weeks and as clinically indicated after 12 weeks.
- Flag the charts of patients at higher risk of suicide.
- Closely monitor patients at higher risk for suicide:
- patients with previous suicide attempts
- patients with previous episodes of self-harm
- patients recently discharged from psychiatric inpatient care
- patients with a family history of suicide or suicide attempts
- patients with a history of serious alcohol or other substance use problems
- using the powers of mental health legislation to intervene for protection