Every year, over 800,000 people commit suicide worldwide, with over 40,000 of these deaths occurring annually in the United States. There are many more who attempt it.[1,2] A United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report indicated that nearly 500,000 people in the United States visit a hospital annually for injuries due to self-harm behavior, suggesting that approximately 12 people harm themselves for every reported death by suicide in the United States. While suicide occurs throughout the lifespan, it is considered to be the second leading cause of death globally among individuals aged 15 to 29 years old. Identification and treatment of individuals at risk for suicide is imperative, not only for the safety of the individuals at risk but also to propel ongoing research that allows us to identify these individuals earlier and develop safer, more effective treatments for suicidal ideation and behavior (SIB).
In this special edition of Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, we dedicate the entire issue to the assessment of SIB. We have compiled 15 articles by leading experts on the assessment of SIB who represent clinical practice, academia, and industry. Each of these groups of authors brings a unique perspective to the study of SIB. While most of these articles focus on assessment of SIB in clinical trials, certainly the methods of assessment described can be and are intended for use in clinical practice to enable clinicians to better identify and treat those patients at risk.
We have organized the issue in article types: original research, critical reviews, reports, case studies, and an interview. We start the issue with four original research studies, each of which examines a different aspect of SIB assessment, including current pharmaceutical sponsor practices in clinical trials, validation of different assessment scales for use in clinical trials, and evaluation of certain measurement parameters when assessing for SIB in acute settings. Following these articles, we offer three critical reviews that we hope will generate thoughtful discussion and ultimately positive action. We follow these with two reports on the different uses and pediatric linguistic validation of the Sheehan-Suicidality Tracking Scale. Next, we offer five case studies that examine the usefulness and accuracy of several measurement parameters used in the assessment of SIB. And finally, we wrap up the issue with an interview with two clinicians on the assessment of SIB in the emergency room.
Suicide is preventable. It is our hope that this compendium of articles on current research and practice of assessment of SIB will stimulate dialogue and collaboration between scientists, researchers, clinicians, and government agencies, all of whom are working to understand and impact this tragic issue.
Amir Kalali, MD
Editor, Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience
1. World Health Organization. Preventing suicide: a global imperative—executive summary. 2014. http://www.who.int/mental_health/suicide-prevention/world_report_2014/en/. Accessed October 2014.
2. United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing suicide. September 8, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/features/preventingsuicide/. Accessed October 2014.
3. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Understanding suicide. https://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide. Accessed October 2014.