The total number of completed suicides in 2005 escalated to 32,637 people in the United States alone. This seems to indicate an urgent need for research into the reasons an individual reaches the level of desperation that causes him or her to commit suicide. While the external factors may be relatively obvious, the internalfactors are unavailable for evaluation unless the individual chooses to reveal them.
Understanding the outward signs alone may lead to increased ability on the part of clinicians, health care workers, teachers and religious leaders to recognize the signs indicating that a person may have suicidal intentions, thereby giving them the opportunity to find treatment for that individual before he orshe can act on those impulses. Lack of empirical evidence on which to base a clinical assessment of suicidality has resulted in research being conducted in a random fashion. Each study may yield useful information but the difficulty lies in being unable to compare it with other studies due to lack of conformity. Researchers must often look backward from the time of attempt or ideation to identifythe precursors. It is doubtful that records have been compiled and made available regarding indicative signs.
Research studies seek to find optimal methods for evaluating, devising and carrying out methods to identify and treat those members of the population with suicidal tendencies who are likely to carry out a suicide. There is a need to structure future studies in a similar way to allow forcomparison and compilation of empirical evidence over time.
The goal of researchers is to answer the question of what the primary predictive indicators are that identify the suicidal person from the non-suicidal one. There is correlation between psychiatric disorders or substance addiction and suicidal intent? The degree of correlation is not known.
Scientists continue to search for onecommon denominator among suicidal individuals by comparing attempters and ideators. Using methods to chart the results as is done in criminal profiling might yield answers. If software could be developed to run all possibly comorbid psychiatric disorders present in attempters and ideators it would pinpoint what trait(s) or life event(s) they have in common. Information about the fatal suicidevictims might be gathered by questioning relatives of the decedent. Finding that one thing all suicides have in common would have great predictive value.
Research has been somewhat random based on information in the four journal articles under consideration. Obstacles to adequate treatment include unrealistic constraints imposed by insurance companies and managed care plans on what treatmentclinicians are allowed to provide. Medical treatment and mental health care in particular is not an exact science. The parameters of care, especially in regards to duration, are currently rigid and frustrating to clinicians.
A psychiatrist or psychologist may find that limits on length of time allowed for inpatient care requires discharge of a patient still in need of close supervision. Outpatientcare may be restricted as to type of therapy, how many days per week it can be provided and for how many weeks or months in total it can be continued. In addition to evaluating the needs of the patient, the clinician must gauge how sufficient care can be provided within the restrictions imposed based on financial advantage for the insurance companies. It has affected some clinicians and care centersto the extent of refusing to treat individuals who have attempted suicide not for lack of caring but because they will not be allowed to provide adequate care due to the rules imposed by the insurance companies.
A concern was raised about the possible iatrogenic effect on high school students being surveyed about their opinions on and reactions to suicide. The Gould et. al study surveyed...