What is the role of emergency department clinicians in the prevention of depression and suicide?

Updated: Sep 02, 2020
  • Author: Louise B Andrew, MD, JD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

Answer

Emergency department clinicians need to maintain a high index of suspicion for the diagnosis of depression, especially in populations at risk for suicide. [27, 28, 29]

The emergency department can sometimes be the last opportunity for intervention in the downward spiral of depression, which leads to death for a significant number of persons with the disease. Although the clinician may never see the results of protective intervention, statistics suggest that the presentation of a depressed and suicidal patient to a health-care setting is an opportunity to make a real difference and possibly to save a life.

Few diseases are as lethal, and yet as reversible, as depression. Lives can be and are saved every day as a result of the timely efforts and empathic interventions of skilled and compassionate health-care professionals who are knowledgeable, empathic, and motivated to deal effectively with depression.


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