The study, of more that 9,000 suicides in Sweden, has concluded that the key to prevention is to increase cooperation between primary healthcare and psychiatry.
“If you work more with prevention then suicide rates can be reduced,” said Jan Sundquist, the leader of the study at Lund University in southern Sweden.
“Psychiatry obviously has an advantage here, and they could help and be proactive in this kind of cooperation, in order to capture these patients who are in contact with outpatient care,” he said.
Sundquist warned that “it does not matter how skilled the psychiatrists are when most people who have depression and anxiety go into primary care”.
According to the study conducted by Swedish and American researchers, mental illness and unemployment are greater risk factors for suicide in women than in men.
Men are more affected by being single and by low levels of education.
The study, which is the first of its kind and is based on data from both primary and specialist care, showed that the risk of suicide was almost three times higher in men than in women.
The study charted 7 million people in the Swedish healthcare register from 2001 to 2008 and found that 8,721 committed suicide.
Most of the victims were aged 35-64-years-old.
Despite recent increases in some social groups, the rate of suicide in Sweden remains fairly average in international comparisons.
According to the latest WHO data, Sweden lies 35th in the international suicide table, one place behind the United States.
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