7 Effective Suicide Precautions Psychiatric Hospitals Can Implement 

Updated on December 3, 2019

Each year around the world, around one million people die of suicide. 

Medical and surgical units within hospitals are not well suited for suicidal patients. 

Suicidal patients in these units end up gaining access to items that can be used to commit suicide. They also give them more alone time. So what can hospitals do to prevent these suicides? 

Continue reading to discover the best suicide precautions that hospitals can use to keep patients safe. 

1. Evaluate Your Patient

One of the first precautions that hospitals should take is to screen their patients and check their mental state of health.

Hospital staff should be paying attention to the patient’s behavior and mental status. This can help identify patients in need of close care. Watch for impairments in judgment, including intoxication. 

Dementia, anxiety, and depression should all be monitored when taking suicide precautions. 

2. Check for Unsafe Items on Them

After you have evaluated the patient and have an understanding of their mental health you will need to check for unsafe items.

People that are suicidal may discretely grab items that they can use to commit suicide. Check for sharp objects, medications, and drugs if you have a patient that is at risk for suicide. 

Searching for items before the patient can use them is the best way to avoid unfortunate events. Be mindful of the objects in the hospital room as well. Don’t leave needles and sharp tools around. 

3. Make the Room Safe and Secure 

The most effective precaution that hospitals can take to prevent suicide is by making the rooms safe and secure for all patients. 

Using antiligature hardware can help stop patients from hurting themselves. Many people try committing suicide with a blanket by hanging themselves. Antiligature hardware can prevent people from tying objects and harming themselves. 

You should also cover up open light sockets and cords. Any type of rope or cord can cause harm. Keeping the room as simple as possible is one of the best ways to keep it safe. 

4. Make Frequent Checks

Besides making the room more safe you will also need to ensure that suicidal patients are frequently being checked in on. 

Every 15 minutes, at least, the patient should be monitored. Hospital staff is learning that these frequent checks can help avoid suicidal situations. Staff can identify changes in mood and behaviors to ensure safety. 

Each check should be documented on a shared computer for staff. This can help staff evaluate changes throughout the day and add more staff and care if the patient’s mental health is declining. 

5. Improve Communication

When there are patients at risk of suicide, communication becomes the most important thing to focus on.

Hospitals can help prevent suicide by improving their communication. Informing each member on the progress of the patient is beneficial to the hospital staff. Not only will it get everyone on the same page, but it will also allow more people to identify red flags and signs of suicide. 

Communication with the patient is also important. Talking to them and checking their mental health status can give you more insight into their health. Keeping the same staff, or group of staff, on patients can also improve communication.

This allows the hospital to get a better understanding of patients instead of having a different nurse at every visit. 

6. Offer More Help 

Most people that commit suicide do not show any symptoms before their attempts. 

Offering your patients the chance to talk to someone in the hospital can prevent them from following through on an attempt. Counselors and therapists are ideal to speak to. Patients can also talk in support groups for more resources to help. 

Hospitals should also check in with their patients and identify if they need any more help. Even when someone looks okay, it may be best for them to talk to a professional. This can help them work through emotions and feelings of suicide. 

Hospitals can even supply discharged patients with information and resources. There are many places that people can go to for support. Offering more skills and opportunities for a patient can help them beyond the hospital. 

7. Don’t Discharge Patients Early

Unfortunately, with how busy hospitals have become, some people are being discharged before they should be. 

Discharging patients early can run the risk of them committing suicide outside of the hospital. Hospitals should take care of patients until they are sure that their mental and physical health is strong. 

The more time that staff works and talks with patients, the more information the hospital will have. Often, simple conversations can reveal signs of suicide and the risk of harming themselves. 

Suicide Precautions That Help Save Lives 

Psychiatric hospitals are one of the most adapted places for suicidal patients. 

There are many suicide precautions that hospitals have begun using to help keep patients safe. One of the most important things that hospitals can do to prevent suicide is to screen their patients for mental health impairments. 

Checking for sharp objects and keeping the room free of ropes and needles is also recommended. Many people trying to commit suicide go to the hospital and have more time to themselves, giving them another chance. 

Frequent checks on patients and improved communication with staff can help keep patients safe. With everyone having access to a patient’s improvement over the day, they can determine overall progress. 

Hospitals should avoid discharging patients before they are ready. Offering further help and counseling can help people get through their weakest times. 

Be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more articles about mental health awareness and living your best life. 

Throughout the year, our writers feature fresh, in-depth, and relevant information for our audience of 40,000+ healthcare leaders and professionals. As a healthcare business publication, we cover and cherish our relationship with the entire health care industry including administrators, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, and more. We cover a broad spectrum from hospitals to medical offices to outpatient services to eye surgery centers to university settings. We focus on rehabilitation, nursing homes, home care, hospice as well as men’s health, women’s heath, and pediatrics.