Suicide mitigation: a compassionate approach to suicide prevention

Alys Cole-King, Gill Green, Linda Gask, Kevin Hines and Stephen Platt

The death of a patient by suicide can severely affect mental health professionals, particularly if it occurs despite major efforts to intervene. Notwithstanding the difficulties faced by clinicians, suicide prevention remains of paramount importance in order to help save lives. This article seeks to promote a pragmatic and compassionate biopsychosocial response using evidence-based interventions to reduce suicide. It introduces practical strategies that psychiatrists can use in everyday clinical practice, in particular the paradigm shift of suicide mitigation to help prevent suicide. We believe that every encounter with a suicidal person is an opportunity to intervene to reduce their distress and, potentially, to save a life. We believe that it is no longer acceptable for clinicians to state that if patients wish to kill themselves they can do so, in the absence of any attempt at a compassionate intervention.

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