Columbia University Medical Center

Suicide Risk After Hospital Discharge Highest for Depression Patients

suicide risk after psychiatric hospitalization highest for patients with depression

(This article was adapted from a JAMA Psychiatry press release)

The short-term suicide risk in patients discharged from U.S. psychiatric hospitals is greatest for patients with depression and those not connected to the health care system, according to a new study by Columbia psychiatrist Mark Olfson, MD, published this month in JAMA Psychiatry.

The study examined Medicaid claims data from 2001 to 2007 to determine suicide risk during the first 90 days after discharge for adults diagnosed with mental disorders.

Patients with depression had the highest short-term rate of suicide (235 per 100,000 person-years), followed by patients with bipolar disorder (216), schizophrenia (168), and other mental disorders (160). Patients with substance use disorders had the lowest rate (116.5). In comparison, the suicide rate of a demographically matched U.S. population is 12.5 per 100,000 person-years.

Recently discharged psychiatric patients show one of the highest suicide rates of any identified risk group.

“The findings demand close attention: recently discharged psychiatric patients show one of the highest suicide rates of any identified risk group,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

“Psychiatric patients should not be considered cured at the time of discharge. They are still ill, many of their symptoms continue, treatment is ongoing, and their need for care remains.”