Overcrowding as a possible risk factor for inpatient suicide in a South African psychiatric hospital

Christoffel Grobler, Johanita Strumpher, Ruwayda Jacobs

Abstract


About 4% of all suicides are estimated to occur while being an inpatient in a psychiatric facility. Staff generally assume that an inpatient suicide reflects a failure on their part to recognise the patient’s suicidal intent and whether it could have been prevented in any way.

Inpatients who commit suicide do not seem to be a homogenous group, but some risk factors have been identified, including being young, single, male, unemployed, abusing substances, schizophrenia and personality- and affective disorders. Number of admissions in the previous month also appears to be a risk factor.

When the numbers of inpatients are high, more violent incidents occu. Although literature presently do not suggest an association, overcrowding in psychiatric inpatient wards should be considered a risk factor for inpatient suicide.


Keywords


Suicide; inpatient; overcrowding

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v21i3.759

Submitted: 28 January 2015
Published: 01 August 2015




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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)