Did the Introduction of ‘Dangerousness’ and ‘Risk of Harm’ Criteria in Mental Health Laws Increase the Incidence of Suicide in the United States of America?
Large M M~~Nielssen O B~~Lackersteen S M
Suicide statistics were aligned according to the year in which obligatory dangerousness criteria were introduced in American jurisdictions. Suicide rates were then examined in the 15 years before & after the introduction of the criteria as were trends in national & state suicide rates between 1960-1990. The introduction of this legislation may have contributed to increased suicide rates in 1976. However, national suicide rates may have been rising for other reasons in the same period. An increase in suicide rates was not found in jurisdictions where these mental health laws were introduced after 1976. Findings do not support the conclusion that the laws had a measurable impact on suicide rates. (45 refs.) JA