Addressing Suicide Risk in the Dental Setting

close up of clenched hands

By Tracye A. Moore RDH, MS, EdD; and Haylee McElroy, RDH, BSDH, MEd

Death by suicide is a serious public health problem that affects millions of people worldwide. Each year, approximately 700,000 people die of suicide. In 2019, it was the fourth leading cause of death among those ages 15 to 29 globally, with 77% of suicide deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.1–3 In 2018 to 2019, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death among young adults. Death by suicide is not only devastating to the family involved, but it reverberates throughout the community and social circles. Healthcare providers can be gatekeepers for the detection of patients at risk for suicide. More specifically, oral heath professionals are on the frontlines of preventive healthcare, with many patients seeking treatment biannually. This gives dental hygienists the opportunity to identify and address early warning signs of depression, self-harm, suicide ideation, and attempt.

* References can be found in the original article via the link below.
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