Is suicide attempt preventable? The role of health care system's characteristics in the suicide prevention - An international comparison

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Objective. The aim of this study was to compare patterns of contact made by patients with GPs and other health care professionals in two European cities prior to attempting suicide. The objective was to determine whether differences between a public and a private health care system) could be a possible factor influencing the help-seeking behaviour of suicide attempters. Subjects and Method. Within the frame of the WHOIEURO Multicentre Study on Parasuicide detailed structured interviews were conducted with suicide attempters in Pecs (Hungary) and Bern (Switzerland). The Hungarian sample comprised 101 and the Swiss sample 66 patients. Rates of parasuicide were higher in Pecs. Results. In Bern slightly more patients visited their GPs throughout the year (87 % vs 83,2 %). However, within the last week before the suicide attempt twice as many Hungarian patients went to see a GP compared to the Bern sample. Almost the same proportion of the patients had suicidal ideation, but in Pecs only more than a quarter of them and in Bern half of them talked about their suicidal thoughts. In the Hungarian sample more patients were prescribed medication and almost half of them used these drugs for self-poisoning compared to over a quarter in Bern. Conclusion. The differences in help-seeking behaviour between the two samples may be related to the higher number of practising GPs and a more consistent patient-doctor relationship in Bern. It is likely that a consistent and personal relationship with a medical helper or system (eg. GP as gatekeeper) facilitates the communication of suicidal ideation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatria Danubina
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2001



  • Attempted suicide
  • Multicentre study
  • Prevention
  • Primary health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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