Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Effect of telephone contact on further suicide attempts in patients discharged from an emergency department: randomised controlled study

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 25 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1241

Rapid Response:

Age Matters

Positive findings that contact with people who have tried to take
their own lives is effective may encourage professionals that there is
something that can help people in such distress in an otherwise bleak
situation. Guillaume Vaiva and colleagues have provided substantial
support for co-ordinated responses in primary care to reduce the risk of
further attempts.

National suicide prevention strategies show that there are groups for
whom interventions may be particularly valuable. Older people still make
up a large proportion of those who take their own lives and their intent
is often firm. Research on suicide prevention needs to consider responses
to older people rather than apply age cut offs. This habit runs the risk
of limiting our knowledge about what older people would find helpful,
means that we have to hypothesise that what works for adults of working
age will work for older people, and creates separate streams of ‘evidence
informed’ practice.

Is it time for research that excludes older people to be more
explicit about why?

Jill Manthorpe
Professor of Social Work
Social Care Workforce Research Unit
King’s College London
London SE1 9NN

Steve Iliffe
Reader in General Practice
Royal Free Hospital Medical School
Rowland Hill Street
London NW3


Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

05 June 2006
Jill Manthorpe
Professor of Social Work
Steve Iliffe
Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King's Colege London