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J R Soc Med. 1995 June; 88(6): 344P–346P.
PMCID: PMC1295243

Suicide in hospital: guidelines for prevention.


Few events in medical practice create such a sense of failure and guilt as the suicide of a hospital inpatient. The mortality rate is known to be increased in severe psychiatric illness just as it is in most other medical illnesses. The analogy, however, is not generally accepted. Death in cardiovascular or malignant disease, for example, is regarded in many cases as inevitable, a welcome relief from months of pain and suffering. Suicide, by contrast, is considered an unnatural event, one which is avoidable and preventable. In each case of suicide there is a belief among medical and nursing staff that they should have done better: they should have assessed the patient more carefully; been more aware of hints of suicide; provided closer supervision; or not agreed to the final period of leave.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Appleby L. Suicide in psychiatric patients: risk and prevention. Br J Psychiatry. 1992 Dec;161:749–758. [PubMed]
  • Morgan HG, Priest P. Suicide and other unexpected deaths among psychiatric in-patients. The Bristol confidential inquiry. Br J Psychiatry. 1991 Mar;158:368–374. [PubMed]
  • Langley GE, Bayatti NN. Suicides in Exe Vale Hospital, 1972-1981. Br J Psychiatry. 1984 Nov;145:463–467. [PubMed]
  • Salmons PH. Suicide in high buildings. Br J Psychiatry. 1984 Nov;145:469–472. [PubMed]
  • Goh SE, Salmons PH, Whittington RM. Hospital suicides: are there preventable factors? Profile of the psychiatric hospital suicide. Br J Psychiatry. 1989 Feb;154:247–249. [PubMed]
  • Morgan HG. Suicide prevention. Hazards on the fast lane to community care. Br J Psychiatry. 1992 Feb;160:149–153. [PubMed]
  • Goldacre M, Seagroatt V, Hawton K. Suicide after discharge from psychiatric inpatient care. Lancet. 1993 Jul 31;342(8866):283–286. [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press