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A Syndrome of Serious Suicidal Intent

ALAN A. STONE, MC
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1960;3(4):331-339. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1960.01710040001001.
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Suicide may be a simple act, but the events, impulses, and motives which prompt such an act are complicated, obscure, and multiple. The particular etiological or causative factors often cannot be deciphered. Psychological, physiological, social, ethical, cultural, economic, and situational factors may, and probably all do, play a part in any one suicidal act. Despite this complexity, the psychiatrist is often called upon to make a decision, to predict the likelihood in his particular patient of a serious suicide attempt.* This decision is perhaps the most difficult and weighty that the psychiatrist has to make. If he fails to commit such a patient he is left with the distasteful feeling that had he done something differently his patient might have lived. Many psychiatrists have a professional philosophy to meet this contingency, e.g., "One can't be omnipotent," or "No one can really keep a person from suicide who is

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