Letter to the Editor

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

Christoffel Grobler, Johanita Strumpher, Ruwayda Jacobs
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 21, No 3 | a759 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v21i3.759 | © 2015 Christoffel Grobler, Johanita Strumpher, Ruwayda Jacobs | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 January 2015 | Published: 01 August 2015

About the author(s)

Christoffel Grobler, Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Johanita Strumpher, Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Ruwayda Jacobs, Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

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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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