Inpatient suicide: preventing a common sentinel event

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2009 Mar-Apr;31(2):103-9. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2008.09.007. Epub 2008 Oct 9.


Objective: Suicide in the hospital is one of the most common types of sentinel events, and hospitals can (and should) take steps to decrease the likelihood of experiencing this type of crisis.

Method: MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, National Electronic Library for Mental Health, and PSYCHINFO searches were conducted. In addition, manual and phone queries were used to identify relevant empirical and clinical publications. Reference sections of published articles were also searched.

Results: The current article discusses the rates of suicide in hospitals, related risk factors, methods of suicidal behavior, and factors which contribute to this tragic event. Environmental, patient care, staff training, and hospital policy recommendations for decreasing the number of inpatient suicides are presented.

Conclusion: Inpatient suicide is a traumatic event. Although it is a relatively rare occurrence that is often difficult to predict and prevent, continuing to refine our efforts to assist the population at risk is imperative.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Health Policy
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide, Attempted / prevention & control*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*