5 stats on hospital suicides

About 49 to 65 suicides in hospital inpatient units happen annually in the U.S., with most of them occurring among psychiatric inpatients, a study published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety found.

The study, which provides the first data-driven estimate of the number of suicides in U.S. hospitals, was published in conjunction with National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 9-15.

To create an evidence-based estimate of the number of hospital inpatient suicides, the study analyzed national data sets, including the CDC's national violent death reporting system data for 2014 to 2015 and the Joint Commission's sentinel event database from 2010 to 2017.

Five statistics on hospital inpatients suicides, according to the study:

1. The finding that about 49 to 65 hospital inpatient suicides happen annually in the U.S. is far lower than the widely cited estimate of 1,500 each year, the Joint Commission said. Of these suicides, 75 percent to 80 percent were among psychiatric inpatients.

2. The study found estimated suicide rates were 3.2 per 100,000 psychiatric inpatient admissions and 0.03 per 100,000 non-psychiatric inpatients.

3. In both databases, hanging accounted for over 70 percent of suicides.

4. About half of suicides occurred in a hospital bathroom, one-third in a bedroom and the remainder in a closet (4 percent), shower (4 percent) or other location (8 percent).

5. The most commonly used fixture point was a door, door handle or door hinge (53.8 percent). 

"The Joint Commission is improving its methods for analyzing inpatient suicides to collect more detailed information so we can provide better guidance on how hospitals can mitigate suicide risk more effectively," said study author Scott Williams, director of the research department for the Joint Commission.

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