Experts warn over heightened suicide risk for mental health patients post-discharge
Analysis of suicides over 10-year period finds suicide risk especially acute in first two weeks after leaving hospital
An analysis of suicides in the UK between 2002 and 2012 found that the first three months after discharge was a time of “particularly high” suicide risk with the risk especially acute in the first two weeks, researchers at the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide found. There were 3,225 suicides in the UK by mental health patients in the post-discharge period; 18% of all patient suicides.
Researchers called for suicides within three days of discharge to be added to the list of NHS ‘never events’ in England and Wales and the list of ‘serious adverse events’ used by health services in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Providers must investigate all ‘never events’ and report on them publically in annual reports.
Professor Louis Appleby, Director of the National Confidential Inquiry, said: “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.”
Mental health campaigners voiced concerns that the pressure on mental health beds and crisis teams could see patients discharged too early and put at risk. Over the past year, a series of investigations by Community Care and BBC News has highlighted growing pressure on services for acutely unwell adults and children.
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