Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and is increasing in almost every state, despite rates falling globally. Often overlooked, health care systems and providers play an important and necessary role in reducing suicides. The myth has been that health care is not in a position to make a difference because most suicides do not occur within its scope, but emerging data paints a far different picture: 83 percent of those who die by suicide have seen a health care provider in the year before their death and 40–50 percent of suicide deaths have been within a month of a primary care visit.
The health care landscape is ripe with the opportunity to identify, treat, and save people from suicide; however, most providers never ask people about their risk, most health care systems are poorly prepared to care for people at risk,
and most individuals at risk often go undetected. These gaps in care are unnecessary based on current knowledge, and often fatal.