Year: 2001 Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, v.161, no.7, (April 2001), p.991-994 SIEC No: 20070901

Objective  To assess the scope of diagnostic screening for suicide prevention in general hospital patients.

Methods  Retrospective medical record review of general hospital patients who committed suicide and matched-control subjects who did not commit suicide shortly after being discharged from the hospital.

Results  The suicide rate was 32 per 100 000 patient-years. Eight (73%) of 11 patients who committed suicide were diagnosed with depression, substance use disorder, or both at their last hospital admission compared with 11 (33%) of the controls (P<.05). Only 1 of 44 patients (both cases and controls) was referred for psychiatric consultation.

Conclusions  The suicide rate in general hospital patients was almost 3-fold higher than in the general population. Depression and/or substance use disorders were risk factors for suicide. Screening for those disorders may be beneficial for suicide prevention in the general hospital population, but will likely benefit more patients who will not commit suicide.