TWO YEARS AGO, the Secretary of Health and Human Services convened a task force on youth suicide to address the issues of risk factors, intervention, and prevention (JAMA 1985;254:1286). The task force is expected to make its recommendations this summer.
According to Mark Rosenberg, MD, chair of the task force's work group on strategies and recommendations and assistant director for science, Division of Injury Epidemiology and Control, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, "We can track the number of suicides better now, and we have some understanding of the basic pattern, but we still need to develop an effective intervention program."
What can physicians do to intervene? The experts who were interviewed for this article had several suggestions.
Paul C. Holinger, MD, MPH, associate professor of psychiatry at Rush-Presbyterian—St Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, believes a knowledge of suicide risk is essential for internists and primary care physicians. "Just as they're