Year: 2022 Source: Archives of Suicide Research. (2022). 26(3), 1436-1446. SIEC No: 20220834
Objective Inpatient suicides are rare incidents; however, the impacts of such events on associated families and hospital staff are severe. Therefore, preventive strategies need to focus on risk factors. Clinical management in a hospital setting must integrate the home environment and social life of patients. Nevertheless, home leaves require careful preparation. Methods Suicides were reported systematically from all psychiatric departments of the Landschaftsverband Rheinland (an assembly of municipalities) using a structured form during two periods (1995–2004, 2005–2014). From these reports we extracted data on suicide methods and sociodemographic and clinical variables. Only patients 65 years and older were included. Results From a total of 551 reports on suicides in the period of 1995–2014, 103 patients 65 years and older (60 women, 43 men) died by suicide. In contrast to the general trend in Germany during this period, no decline in overall suicide rates was found. Most patients were treated because of depression (73.8%); schizophrenic psychosis was diagnosed in 11.7%; and dementia was only diagnosed in 1.9%. The most frequent suicide method was hanging (40%). All suicides within the hospital were hangings. The majority of suicides occurred outside the hospital during approved home leaves. Only 7% of suicides occurred when patients left the hospital without permission. Almost half of the patients (n = 44) died by suicide during the first month of treatment. With longer duration of hospitalization, the risk of suicide decreased. There were no significant trends with regard to suicide methods between the two periods. Conclusions In the first weeks of hospitalizations the patients are most endangered to die by suicide. Therefore, home leaves need careful consideration.