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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 50 (2008) 4, 197 - 203

New research

Prevention of post-discharge suicide: an inventory

A. Huisman, A.J.F.M. Kerkhof

background Research has shown that the first months after discharge from psychiatric inpatient care is a high risk period for suicide. However, there has been very little research into the prevention policies that mental health care centres pursue in order to reduce this risk.
aim To draw up an inventory of the preventive activities that mental health services undertake to reduce the risk of suicide by psychiatric patients discharged from inpatient treatment.
method Fifteen mental health care providers of 10 different departments of 4 mental health care organisations in the province North-Holland were asked in a personal interview about the policy of their institution regarding the prevention of suicide after discharge.
results One out of 10 locations had a standard policy for the prevention of suicide after discharge from psychiatric care. Four locations had an informal policy and 5 an ad hoc policy. Differences were found in the views of mental health care providers regarding suicide prevention and the responsibility of mental health care centres for the prevention of post-discharge suicide.
conclusion Only half of the mental health institutions employed a preventive policy with regard to post-discharge suicide. So far, the possibilities for prevention have not been fully utilised.

keywords continuity of care, mental health care, post-discharge suicide