Suicide: Closing the Exits

Ezra E. H. Griffith, MD
JAMA. 1990;263(22):3091-3092. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440220119046.
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This is a well-written text that will be of considerable interest to all those who work seriously on the subject of suicide. It should also be required reading for those interested in the public health dimensions of the topic and for those of us who wish to influence the implementation of public policy relative to suicide prevention.

The authors set out the purpose of their work quite crisply. Their wish is to close the exits, to decrease the number of opportunities any individual has to kill himself. They think the way to accomplish this is by decreasing access to lethal agents. They know some critics will argue that decreasing access to one method of committing suicide leads to an increase in suicide carried out in some alternative form. In a later chapter of the book, the authors suggest that this concept, called "displacement," is not as important a phenomenon as


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