Lessons from a comprehensive clinical audit of users of psychiatric services who committed suicide

Burgess, P., Pirkis, J., Morton, J. and Croke, E. (2000) Lessons from a comprehensive clinical audit of users of psychiatric services who committed suicide. Psychiatric Services, 51 12: 1555-1560. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.51.12.1555

Author Burgess, P.
Pirkis, J.
Morton, J.
Croke, E.
Title Lessons from a comprehensive clinical audit of users of psychiatric services who committed suicide
Journal name Psychiatric Services   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1075-2730
Publication date 2000-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1176/appi.ps.51.12.1555
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 51
Issue 12
Start page 1555
End page 1560
Total pages 6
Language eng
Subject 11 Medical and Health Sciences
Abstract Objective: Characteristics of patients who committed suicide were examined to provide a picture of the treatment they received before death and to determine whether and how the suicides could have been pre vented by the service system. Methods: The unnatural-deaths register was matched to the psychiatric case register in the state of Victoria in Australia to identify suicides by people with a history of public-sector psychiatric service use who committed suicide between July 1, 1989, and June 30, 1994. Data on patient and treatment characteristics were examined by three experienced clinicians, who made judgments about whether the suicide could have been prevented had the service system responded differently. Quantitative and qualitative data were descriptively analyzed. Results: A total of 629 psychiatric patients who had committed suicide were identified. Seventy-two percent of the patients were male, 62 percent were under 40 years old, and 51 percent were unmarried. They had a range of disorders, with the most common being schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder (36 percent). Sixty-seven percent had previously attempted suicide. A total of 311 patients (49 percent) received care within four weeks of death. Twenty percent of the suicides were considered preventable. Key factors associated with preventability were poor staff-patient relationships, incomplete assessments, poor assessment and treatment of depression and psychological problems, and poor continuity of care. Conclusions: Opportunities exist for the psychiatric service system to alter practices at several levels and thereby reduce patient suicides.
Keyword Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Health Policy & Services
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Public Health Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 63 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 73 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 13 Aug 2007, 22:05:17 EST