The characteristics of suicides within a week of discharge after psychiatric hospitalisation -- a nationwide register study

Pirkola, Sami; Sohlman, Britta; Wahlbeck, Kristian
January 2005
BMC Psychiatry;2005, Vol. 5, p32
Academic Journal
Background: The characteristics of victims of immediate post-discharge suicides are not well known. We explored these characteristics for the purposes of better recognition and preventive efforts of potential immediate post-discharge suicides. Methods: Suicides from a Finnish nationwide register were linked with preceding periods of psychiatric inpatient treatment. Characteristics of suicides within a week of discharge were compared to those occurring later after discharge. Results: Compared to other previously hospitalised suicide victims, those committing suicide within a week of discharge were more often female, unmarried, had a higher grade of education and a diagnosis of schizophrenia spectrum or affective disorder, tended to use more drowning and jumping from heights as the methods for suicide and had gained a smaller improvement in psychological functioning during hospitalization. Conclusion: These characteristics indicate a more severe psychopathology, relatively poorer level of functioning, less global response to hospitalisation, and a more frequent choice of lethal and easily available method for suicide. Potentially suicidal psychiatric patients should be better recognized and an immediate follow-up arranged if it is decided they be discharged.


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