Management of the suicidal adolescent on a nonpsychiatric adolescent unit

J Pediatr. 1979 Aug;95(2):305-8. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(79)80681-2.


Suicide attempts by adolescents far outnumber suicide fatalities, yet there is lack of agreement regarding the optimal approach to their immediate care. Since 1968, we have admitted all such patients to a general adolescent in-patient unit. A review of the first 100 admissions of adolescents who had attempted suicide was undertaken to determine the safety, economy, and efficacy of this practice. During an average six-day hospitalization, 12 patients required constant nursing observation for more than one day, and six received tranquilizers. No major disruption on the unit, suicide attempts, or self-abusive acts occurred. Twelve patients required subsequent transfer to in-patient psychiatric facilities because of on-going suicidal ideation or psychosis or both. Hospitalization on a general unit for adolescent survivors of suicide attempts is safe, usually adds minimal cost to ordinary hospital care, permits meticulous medical attention for poisoning, and provides a stabilizing influence following a major life crisis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Psychiatry*
  • Female
  • Hospital Departments
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New York
  • Residential Treatment
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Suicide, Attempted* / psychology
  • Tranquilizing Agents / administration & dosage


  • Tranquilizing Agents