Completed suicide in medical/surgical patients: Who is at risk?

J. Michael Bostwick, Sandra J. Rackley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Factors-contributing to patients killing themselves while admitted Jo general hospital medical/surgical (med/surg) units have not been well described. These rare yet devastating suicides appear to have characteristics distinguishing them from suicides in psychiatric inpatients. This article emphasizes the importance of both agitation and readily available lethal means in suicides that are almost invariably impulsive. It also emphasizes how traditional risk factors such as past history of psychiatric illness, substance abuse, or suicidality typically are absent imthis population, as are present depression and known suicidality. Caregivers seeking to prevent suicide in the med/surg environment therefore must appreciate the potential lethality of acute psychic and motoric agitation. Close surveillance of agitated patients, with interventions to calm them and secure their surroundings, will assure safety and save lives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-246
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Psychiatry Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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