Sept. 15 (UPI) -- A National Institutes of Health study found that life-saving post-emergency room suicide prevention programs are cost-effective.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. About 44,193 people died by suicide in the United States in 2015.
The study examined the cost-effectiveness of three suicide prevention programs: follow-up postcards sent by hospital staff each month to patients at risk, telephone outreach by hospital staff to offer support and encourage treatment and cognitive behavioral therapy with hospital staff connecting patients to a suicide-focused cognitive behavioral therapy program.
All of the three interventions has been previously tested in clinical trials and were found to reduce a patient's suicide risk by 30 to 50 percent.
Researchers examined the cost-effectiveness of these interventions compared to standard care and found that the use of postcards was the most effective, reduced suicide attempts and deaths and slightly reduced healthcare costs compared to usual care. Telephone outreach and cognitive behavior therapy reduced suicide attempts and deaths, but increased healthcare costs slightly from $5,900 to $18,800 per additional year of life saved.
"In the face of a gradually rising suicide rate, the need for effective prevention strategies is urgent," Dr. Joshua Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said in a press release.
"These findings of cost-effectiveness add to the impetus for implementing these life-saving approaches. Importantly, they also make a strong case for expanding screening, which would allow us to reach many more of those at risk with life-saving interventions."