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Alternatives to the Suicide Prevention Approach to Mental Health

John Hitchcock, MD; Jack A. Wolford, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1970;22(6):547-549. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1970.01740300067008.
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SUICIDE prevention facilities are appearing at a rapid rate in the United States—from 47 to 74 in less than a year.1

The purposes of this communication are to raise certain issues which we believe expose some of the theoretical and practical deficiencies in the suicide prevention service, and to suggest alternatives.

Review of the literature fails to reveal any indication that persons harboring self-destructive impulses share with each other any attribute other than the self-destructive impulse itself. Types of behavior described as "self-destructive" are diverse and range from the successful suicidal act to "accidents," and "chronic" suicidal conditions such as alcoholism, obesity, smoking, and even work or school performance.

A number of authors point out that individuals manifesting suicidal behavior show no significant concordance for genic material, personality or character structure, psychiatric diagnosis, socioeconomic status, life situation, age, or any other defined parameter. Litman says suicide is "an


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