Preventing Suicides2022-10-22

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small.

—Lao Tzu

Why do people die by suicide? It boils down to three main reasons: escaping suffering, avoiding being a burden, and feeling guilty (or making others feel guilty about how they treated you). These map to four main subtypes of suicidality we identified in our research studies over the last decade: an anxious subtype, a depressed subtype, a psychotic subtype, and a combined one.

To understand, track, predict, and prevent suicidality, we have developed three tools: an app that can be used at home to track feelings and thoughts, a screening questionnaire to assess risk factors that does not ask about suicidal ideation, and a blood test to match people with the right preventive nutraceuticals and medications.

Taken together, we think that the tools we and others have developed will transform suicide prevention, in particular if they are used widely in primary care as part of routine annual exams, and in non-clinical settings, where most mental health issues occur and can be caught early. It is a failure of implementation of existing advances, combined with unnecessary fear and stigma, that has made suicide appear mysterious and refractory to prevention.

I anticipate a significant shift in a favorable direction over the next few years.

Live. Happier. Longer.