The suicide rate among mental health inpatients have fallen in recent years, shows a long term study, carried out as part of a national inquiry
An analysis of psychiatric admissions data in England between 1997 and 2003 shows that the yearly number of inpatient deaths fell from an average of 187 in 1997 and 1998 to an average of 156 in 2002 and 2003, equivalent to a reduction of 17%.
The National Confidential Enquiry into Suicideshows that the reduction was most obvious among those aged 15 to 44 but rates continued to be higher in men than in women.
The figures may reflect improvements in services, the authors say. But they could also indicate falling population numbers or changes in case mix.
The authors also do not rule out the possibility that mental health patients could be attempting suicide once they have been discharged. Although the number of suicides fell in the period after discharge, the authors suggest that the risk of suicide may actually have increased by as much as 10%.
Psychological Medicine 2006; 36: 1485-92