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Patient follow-up helps reduce suicide rate: report

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Reuters Health

Monday, September 1, 2008

GENEVA (Reuters) - Health workers should follow up patients who try to commit suicide as an effective way to save lives, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a study published on Monday.

In its latest bulletin, the U.N. agency said 85 percent of suicide attempts took place in developing countries. Worldwide, it was among the top three causes of death among people aged between 15 and 34.

New research showed telephone calls and other regular contact after patients were released from hospital dramatically reduced the likelihood of their attempting suicide again.

"It is possible to reduce the suicide rate in populations at risk by keeping in regular contact with patients," the WHO said, recommending that health professionals take seriously the benefits of offering social support to the vulnerable.

"Given its low cost, it can be carried out with very modest resources of space, equipment and personnel. This makes it suitable for extensive application in low- and middle-income countries," the study said.

In 2002, the last year for which figures are available, the WHO estimates 877,000 people worldwide killed themselves, and up to 40 times more attempted suicide.

Reuters Health

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