Suicide Rates After Discharge From Psychiatric Facilities: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

JAMA Psychiatry. 2017 Jul 1;74(7):694-702. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.1044.


Importance: High rates of suicide after psychiatric hospitalization are reported in many studies, yet the magnitude of the increases and the factors underlying them remain unclear.

Objectives: To quantify the rates of suicide after discharge from psychiatric facilities and examine what moderates those rates.

Data sources: English-language, peer-reviewed publications published from January 1, 1946, to May 1, 2016, were located using MEDLINE, PsychINFO, and EMBASE with the search terms ((suicid*).ti AND (hospital or discharg* OR inpatient or in-patient OR admit*).ab and ((mortality OR outcome* OR death*) AND (psych* OR mental*)).ti AND (admit* OR admis* or hospital* OR inpatient* OR in-patient* OR discharg*).ab. Hand searching was also done.

Study selection: Studies reporting the number of suicides among patients discharged from psychiatric facilities and the number of exposed person-years and studies from which these data could be calculated.

Data extraction and synthesis: The meta-analysis adhered to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) and Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) guidelines. A random-effects model was used to calculate a pooled estimate of postdischarge suicides per 100 000 person-years.

Main outcomes and measures: The suicide rate after discharge from psychiatric facilities was the main outcome, and the association between the duration of follow-up and the year of the sampling were the main a priori moderators.

Results: A total of 100 studies reported 183 patient samples (50 samples of females, 49 of males, and 84 of mixed sex; 129 of adults or unspecified patients, 20 of adolescents, 19 of older patients, and 15 from long-term or forensic discharge facilities), including a total of 17 857 suicides during 4 725 445 person-years. The pooled estimate postdischarge suicide rate was 484 suicides per 100 000 person-years (95% CI, 422-555 suicides per 100 000 person-years; prediction interval, 89-2641), with high between-sample heterogeneity (I2 = 98%). The suicide rate was highest within 3 months after discharge (1132; 95% CI, 874-1467) and among patients admitted with suicidal ideas or behaviors (2078; 95% CI, 1512-2856). Pooled suicide rates per 100 000 patients-years were 654 for studies with follow-up periods of 3 months to 1 year, 494 for studies with follow-up periods of 1 to 5 years, 366 for studies with follow-up periods of 5 to 10 years, and 277 for studies with follow-up periods longer than 10 years. Suicide rates were higher among samples collected in the periods 1995-2004 (656; 95% CI, 518-831) and 2005-2016 (672; 95% CI, 428-1055) than in earlier samples.

Conclusions and relevance: The immediate postdischarge period is a time of marked risk, but rates of suicide remain high for many years after discharge. Patients admitted because of suicidal ideas or behaviors and those in the first months after discharge should be a particular focus of concern. Previously admitted patients should be able to access long-term care and assistance.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Hospitals, Psychiatric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Patient Discharge / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*