High Suicide Risk Looms After Depression Hospitalization

Study finds alarming spike in suicide risk immediately following hospitalization, urging reforms in mental health care practices.


In a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry, Kari Aaltonen and colleagues from the University of Helsinki shed light on the immediate and long-term risks of suicide following hospitalization for depression in Finland spanning over two decades.

Their findings, encompassing a comprehensive analysis of all 193,197 depression-related hospitalizations between 1996 and 2017, reveal a stark reality: discharged patients face an exceptionally high risk of suicide in the days immediately following their release, prompting urgent reconsideration of both mental health care practices during hospitalization and post-discharge care strategies.

“The risk of suicide was most extreme immediately after discharge, when the 3-day and 7-day rates exceeded the mean general population rate in 1996 to 2017 by approximately 330-fold and 260-fold, respectively,” the researchers report.
“Of all people dying of suicide, approximately 40% had been hospitalized. After discharge, the risk of suicide in the first week and up to a month is highest, thereafter gradually declining.”

This study not only highlights the acute vulnerability of patients transitioning from hospital to community settings but also underscores the imperative for tailored interventions and systemic reforms to address the iatrogenic risks associated with despair and hopelessness in mental health care settings. emphasizes the need for rights-based and holistic approaches that prioritize patient safety and well-being.

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