Pokorny's complaint: the insoluble problem of the overwhelming number of false positives generated by suicide risk assessment

Olav Nielssen*, Duncan Wallace, Matthew Large

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Alex Pokorny's 1983 prospective study of suicide found that 96.3% of highrisk predictions were false positives, and that more than half of the suicides occurred in the low-risk group and were hence false negatives. All subsequent prospective studies, including the recent US Army Study To Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (STARRS), have reported similar results. We argue that since risk assessment cannot be a practical basis for interventions aimed at reducing suicide, the alternative is for mental health services to carefully consider what amounts to an adequate standard of care, and to adopt the universal precaution of attempting to provide that to all of our patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-20
Number of pages3
JournalPsychiatrist
Volume41
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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