The Los Angeles Times (4/23, Healy) “Booster Shots” blog reports that yesterday, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) acknowledged it does not know if “there is a screening test that could, with some confidence, detect those at risk of committing suicide, and” whether widespread use thereof would “prevent some of the 37,000 suicides that occur annually in the United States.” The USPSTF “set out to determine whether it would be helpful for primary care physicians to routinely screen all patients for suicide, not just those known to be at high risk – such as those with past suicide attempts, those with depression and other mental illnesses, LGBT youth and those with access to guns.” After reviewing existing research on the subject, the task force issued its draft report which indicated that not enough evidence exists to make a recommendation for universal screening for suicide risk.
CQ (4/23, Subscription Publication) reports, “The task force gives suicide risk screening an ‘I’ rating, which means that under the health care law, any costs associated with such testing would not be paid for under the measure’s preventive services provisions. This recommendation is the same one that the task force issued in 2004 when it last reviewed the evidence for this issue.” In addition, the USPSTF “found that effective treatment for suicide risk was ‘in very high-risk population who were not discovered through screening, such as those who present to an emergency department because of a suicide attempt.'” Reuters (4/23, Seaman) also covers the story.
— “Could screening prevent suicides? Not enough evidence, says panel, ” Melissa Healy, The Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2013.