In the Netherlands, guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of suicidal behaviour and a quality paper on the continuity of care have recently been published.
In the United Kingdom, adherence to a similar guideline was associated with a lower suicide rate.
General practitioners and mental health workers need to be systematically educated and trained in the application of the guideline.
Because the majority of victims who die by suicide are not under any type of medical supervision, close relatives and friends as well as 'gatekeepers' should become involved in its prevention.
Relatives and friends need to have access to relevant information and receive support for their suspicions and questions. The general practitioner and the Internet play important roles in this regard.
Budget cuts that affect access to acute mental health care have an adverse impact on suicide rates.
Conflict of interest and financial support: a disclosure form provided by the author is available along with the full text of this article at www.ntvg.nl, search for A5730; click on ‘Belangenverstrengeling’ (‘Conflict of interest’).