Among 15-45 years old people in the industrialised world, suicide is the number one cause of death. Globally one million people take their lives every year. In Sweden the corresponding annual numbers are 1 500 suicides. Every day four Swedes take their own lives and further 40-60 attempt to commit suicide.
The costs for the society, particularly for the public organisations financing the hospital care are very high. On average, a failed suicide attempt implies direct costs for care and rehabilitation of MEUR 0,1 (Räddningsverket, 2004). This implies a total cost of MEUR 1,3 per day or MEUR 500 per year.
The traditional method for the identification of risk patients for suicide, has been to ask depressed patients questions in interviews and rating scales about their situation and how they value their lives and considering statistical risk features and the patient’s history of suicidal behaviour.
In a report from the Swedish Board of Health and Welfare 2007, it was pointed out that among those, who within four weeks after contact with the psychiatric care, committed suicide, only 1,4 per cent were identified as being at high risk of suicide (this should be compared with 97 per cent, identified by test of hyporeactivity).