The characteristics of suicides within a week of discharge after psychiatric hospitalisation - a nationwide register study

BMC Psychiatry. 2005 Aug 25:5:32. doi: 10.1186/1471-244X-5-32.


Background: The characteristics of victims of immediate post-discharge suicides are not well known. We explored these characteristics for the purposes of better recognition and preventive efforts of potential immediate post-discharge suicides.

Methods: Suicides from a Finnish nationwide register were linked with preceding periods of psychiatric inpatient treatment. Characteristics of suicides within a week of discharge were compared to those occurring later after discharge.

Results: Compared to other previously hospitalised suicide victims, those committing suicide within a week of discharge were more often female, unmarried, had a higher grade of education and a diagnosis of schizophrenia spectrum or affective disorder, tended to use more drowning and jumping from heights as the methods for suicide and had gained a smaller improvement in psychological functioning during hospitalization.

Conclusion: These characteristics indicate a more severe psychopathology, relatively poorer level of functioning, less global response to hospitalisation, and a more frequent choice of lethal and easily available method for suicide. Potentially suicidal psychiatric patients should be better recognized and an immediate follow-up arranged if it is decided they be discharged.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cause of Death
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitalization
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Patient Discharge
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide Prevention