Patients at highest risk of suicide in first two weeks after leaving hospital

July 15, 2014

Mental health patients are at their highest risk of dying by suicide in the first two weeks after leaving hospital - a report out today shows.

Around 3,225 patients died by suicide in the UK within the first three months of their discharge from – 18% of all patient suicides, between 2002-2012.

The University of Manchester's National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness found that 526 patients died within the first week, the peak time of risk in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland; it is the first two weeks in Wales.

The Inquiry data, commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) on behalf of NHS England, the Health Department of the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, DHSSPS Northern Ireland and Jersey, was being presented to healthcare professionals and service users at a launch event in Manchester today.

Professor Louis Appleby, Director of the National Confidential Inquiry, who led the study said: "Our latest data shows the first three months after discharge remain the time of highest risk but especially in the first 1-2 weeks. This increased risk has been linked to short admissions and to life events so our recommendations are that careful and effective care planning is needed including for patients before they are discharged and for those who self-discharge.

"Early follow-up appointments should be strengthened and reducing the length of in-patient stay to ease pressure on beds should not be an aim in itself. Instead health professionals should ensure the adverse events that preceded the admission have been addressed."

The also highlights 24 deaths in England and Wales in patients who had been restrained by ward staff in the previous 24 hours. 5 of these deaths occurred in 2012.

The research team call for suicides within 3 days of hospital and deaths and serious injuries caused by restraint to be NHS 'never events'.

The National Confidential Inquiry at The University of Manchester presents data for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales from January 2002 to December 2012 based on date of death for suicide and date of conviction for homicide.

There were 18,017 patient suicides between 2002 and 2012 in the UK, 28% of suicides in the general population during this time.

Hanging remains a common method for suicide with an increase in this method. In 2012, there were 2,994 suicides by hanging in the UK, 813 in patients.

Professor Nav Kapur, Head of Suicide Research at the National Confidential Inquiry, said: "The increase in hanging may be related to restrictions on the availability of other method and the misconception that hanging is a quick and painless way to die - but this is not the case and is also highly distressing for family members who discover the body.

"This method is difficult to prevent outside institutional settings but there is a broad responsibility for preventing by this means. In particular it would be helpful for the media to ensure that in avoiding the depiction of full details of suicides by hanging, they do not inadvertently make it appear to be a non-traumatic method."

The fall in homicides committed by mental health patients reported last year for England was sustained but there was no further fall. Between 2002-2012 828 people convicted of homicide in the UK have been confirmed as mental health patients, on average 75 per year. 66 homicides were recorded in 2012 in the UK.

19% of all homicides were intimate partner homicides, 13% of perpetrators were mental health patients similar to the 11% figure for all homicides.

Professor Jenny Shaw, Head of Homicide Research on the Inquiry, said: "Mental health services need to recognise their role in preventing domestic violence, working with other agencies. We need to improve the mental health of perpetrators to protect victims."

Explore further: Mental health patients more than twice as likely to be victims of homicide than the general public

Related Stories

Mental health patients more than twice as likely to be victims of homicide than the general public

June 18, 2014
Patients with mental illness are two and a half times more likely to be victims of homicide than people in the general population, according to a national study examining the characteristics of homicide victims across England ...

Homicide by mentally ill falls, but patient suicide rises in England

July 3, 2013
The number of people killed by mental health patients has fallen to its lowest level in a decade—figures released today show.

National investigation into child suicide launched

June 5, 2014
The UK's first national investigation into suicide in children and young people is being set up by The University of Manchester to examine causes and recommend prevention strategies.

Suicides among mental health patients under home treatment double the number of suicides in inpatient units

June 18, 2014
The number of deaths by suicide among mental health patients treated at home by crisis resolution home treatment teams (CRHT), has more than doubled in England in recent years, rising from an average of 80 in 2003-2004 to ...

Improved safety measures by mental health service providers help to reduce suicide rates

November 27, 2013
Mental health service providers looking after patients at risk of suicide need to reduce absconding on in-patient wards and boost specialist community services like crisis resolution to reduce deaths, a report by The University ...

Call to improve safety of home treatment for mental health patients

July 11, 2012
Deaths by suicide among mental health patients treated at home have reached 150 to 200 a year in England, latest national figures reveal – but suicides among patients on mental health wards continue to fall.

Recommended for you

Many kinds of happiness promote better health, study finds

July 21, 2017
A new study links the capacity to feel a variety of upbeat emotions to better health.

Study examines effects of stopping psychiatric medication

July 20, 2017
Despite numerous obstacles and severe withdrawal effects, long-term users of psychiatric drugs can stop taking them if they choose, and mental health care professionals could be more helpful to such individuals, according ...

Study finds gene variant increases risk for depression

July 20, 2017
A University of Central Florida study has found that a gene variant, thought to be carried by nearly 25 percent of the population, increases the odds of developing depression.

In making decisions, are you an ant or a grasshopper?

July 20, 2017
In one of Aesop's famous fables, we are introduced to the grasshopper and the ant, whose decisions about how to spend their time affect their lives and future. The jovial grasshopper has a blast all summer singing and playing, ...

Perceiving oneself as less physically active than peers is linked to a shorter lifespan

July 20, 2017
Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about equally active as other people your age?

Old antibiotic could form new depression treatment

July 19, 2017
An antibiotic used mostly to treat acne has been found to improve the quality of life for people with major depression, in a world-first clinical trial conducted at Deakin University.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.