Thursday, April 4, 2013

Suicide Risk Highest Within Two Weeks of Discharge, Study Finds

Researchers conducting a study of suicide risk report that patients are at high risk during the first two weeks after discharge from inpatient psychiatric care and that those in whom suicide risk factors are identified should be targeted for immediate community follow-up. The study, conducted by researchers at the Centre for Mental Health and Risk at England's University of Manchester, has been posted online ahead of print in the APA journal Psychiatric Services in Advance. They conducted a national population-based retrospective study of 100 psychiatric patients who died by suicide within two weeks of hospital discharge and matched these patients with 100 living control-group patients.

The researchers found that 55% of the suicides occurred within one week of discharge, and 49% of these suicides were carried out by patients who had not yet had their first follow-up appointment. Their analyses showed that "recent adverse life events and a short (less than one week) final admission were independently associated with postdischarge suicide, as were older age and comorbid psychiatric disorders." Receiving "enhanced aftercare" appeared to be a protective factor against suicide. The researchers emphasized that while "the period after hospital discharge should be a time of recovery," the role of adverse life experiences "indicates that mental health clinicians need to be aware of the circumstances into which patients are being discharged" and highlights "the importance of careful discharge planning...."

Read more about issues related to suicide risk in Psychiatric News here and here. 

(image: Dirk Ercken/


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