Inpatient medical-surgical suicidal behavior: A 12-year case-control study

Julia Shekunov, Jennifer R. Geske, J. Michael Bostwick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe a medical center's 12-year experience with medically or surgically hospitalized suicide attempters, with the goal of extending the limited literature on this sentinel event. Patients and Methods: Eight Mayo Clinic Rochester patients' self-inflicting injuries serious enough to trigger mandatory reporting while hospitalized on a medical/surgical unit from January 1, 1998 to December 31, 2010 were matched with four same-sex and same-age controls, admitted to the same unit within 2 months. Cases were identified from Sentinel Event Tracking System and Minnesota Adverse Events Statute records. Data were analyzed with conditional logistic regression. Results: Eight of 777,404 medical/surgical inpatients admitted during 12 years attempted suicide, with significantly more non-Caucasian patients among cases than controls (P= .020). Of 8 attempts, 1 was fatal. More cases than controls had undergone inpatient psychiatric evaluation prior to attempt (P= .020), and elevated risk of attempt was significantly associated with increased number of prior attempts (0.049). Near their attempts, each attempter had an identifiable stressor including inadequately controlled pain in 3, agitation and anxiety in 2 each, and acute delirium, insomnia and psychosocial difficulties in 1 each. Conclusion: First, this study's findings underscore the rarity of reported inpatient medical/surgical suicidal behavior. In this sample, suicide attempters were distinct from nonattempters by the increased likelihood of prior suicide attempts as well as inpatient psychiatric consultations before their attempts. When patients have these characteristics, medical teams should take particular notice and initiate heightened watchfulness for suicidal behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-426
Number of pages4
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Inpatient suicide attempters
  • Medical and surgical
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Suicidal behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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