Year: 2022 Source: Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. (2022). Published 2 July 2022. doi:10.1177/00048674221107316 SIEC No: 20220534

Suicide deaths have a profound impact on whānau and community and are a tragic loss. However, from a statistical point of view, suicide is a relatively rare event. Predicting rare events is difficult, and the implications for suicide prevention were highlighted in an important editorial in this journal more than a decade ago, yet little seems to have changed. Risk assessment that focuses on accurate prediction of suicide in real-world contexts is given a great deal of attention in mental health services, despite the fact that current scientific knowledge and best practice guidelines in this area highlight that it is unlikely to be a good basis on which to provide access to treatment. It is our view that we have a good enough understanding of the common conditions people who struggle with suicidal distress experience and energy is better directed at acting to reduce exposure to these conditions and providing treatment for those who seek it. Blueprints for successful suicide prevention exist. If we lessen the focus on prediction, we will have greater resources to focus on treatment and prevention.