Does suicide always indicate a mental illness?

Editorial Piece: Abdi Sanati 2009

It is often assumed that suicide is almost always directly linked with poor mental health, and even more so, with a diagnosed mental health problem.

This editorial piece asks us to reconsider this almost taken for granted cause and effect assumption regarding suicide and underlying mental health challenges.

Each year, over 6000 people take their own lives in the UK. There has always been pressure on mental health services to improve risk assessment in order to reduce the suicide rate.

Back in 1992 The Health of the Nation aimed to reduce the suicide rate by 15% and by 1999 The Department of Health National Service Framework sought to cut the suicide risk by a further fifth from this target.

This implies that suicide is mainly seen as a medical or psychiatric issue – a mental illness.

Source details:

Author: Abdi Sanati

Specialist Registrar in Addiction Psychiatry, South West London & St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust,
London, UK

Published in the London Journal of Primary Care 2009; 2:93-4

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