Published online Sep 22, 2017. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v7.i3.163
Peer-review started: March 10, 2017
First decision: May 2, 2017
Revised: June 26, 2017
Accepted: July 14, 2017
Article in press: July 15, 2017
Published online: September 22, 2017
Suicide is a global public health problem with over one million people dying by suicide each year worldwide. Research efforts have focused on developing and testing novel suicide prevention strategies employing recent technological advances. In order to provide a review regarding the role of new technologies (e.g., postcards/letters, text messages, crisis cards, telephone contacts, online interventions) in suicide prevention, we searched PubMed, ScienceDirect, ResearchGate, and Crisis to identify all papers in English from 1977 to 2016. Our results indicated that brief contact interventions show promise in reducing the number of episodes of repeated self-harm and/or suicide attempts following discharge from the Emergency Department or psychiatric units. Innovative methods of contact (e.g., text messages) are easily implemented by clinicians and received by patients in the period of post discharge and have been shown to be beneficial. However, more research employing randomized clinical trials investigating the potential benefits of these novel suicide prevention methods is warranted. Future researchers should continue improving and testing new technologies in the prevention of suicide.
Core tip: Several studies have shown that several reaching-out means (e.g., letters, postcards, sms, emails) are useful and beneficial for healthcare professionals in preventing suicide and self-harm attempts. In this review we wanted to evaluate how these means could influence the number of episodes of repeated self-harm and/or suicide attempts after discharge from emergency department or psychiatric wards. We have shown that these innovative methods of contact are well accepted by patients in the post-discharge period and are easily used in preventing suicide and self-harm reattempts even though future researchers should continue improving and testing new technologies in the prevention of suicide.