An Australian study has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the tools used by medical professionals to assess suicide risk in mental health patients, prompting calls for a review of the allocation of resources based on the assessments.
The meta-analysis, led by clinical psychiatrist and Conjoint Professor Matthew Large from UNSW Australia’s School of Psychiatry, has been published in the PLOS ONE journal.
It found that suicide risk assessment tools were not successful in predicting suicide outcomes, with no evidence of scientific progress over the past 50 years, pointing to a need for a more patient-focused approach to crisis mental health care.
“It is widely assumed that the care of psychiatric patients can be guided by a mental health professional’s estimate of suicide risk and by using patient characteristics to define high-risk patients,” Dr Large said.
“However, the reliability of categorising suicide risk remains unknown.”