TJC Releases Estimates of Suicides in U.S. Hospitals

PUBLISHED: Sep 11, 2018
Relevant to: Behavioral Health, Critical Access Hospitals, Hospitals

The Joint Commission has published a new study in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, presenting the first data-driven estimate of the number of suicides in U.S. hospitals.

The study, “Incidence and Method of Suicide in Hospitals in the United States,” reviewed national data sets to establish an evidence-based estimate of the number of hospital inpatient suicides and the methods used.

Findings include:

  • Approximately 49 to 65 hospital inpatient suicides occur each year in the United States, far fewer than the widely cited estimate of 1,500 per year.
  • Estimated suicide rates were:
    • 3.2 per 100,000 psychiatric inpatient admissions
    • 0.03 per 100,000 non-psychiatric inpatients
  • 70 percent of suicides in both environments were by hanging.
  • Approximately half of suicides occurred in the bathroom, one third in the bedroom, and the remainder in the closet (4 percent), shower (4 percent) or other location (8 percent).
  • The most commonly used fixture point was a door, door handle, or door hinge (53.8 percent).

According to TJC, the study supports recommendations from The Joint Commission’s Suicide Expert Panel that hospital settings associated with psychiatric treatment should be made ligature-resistant environments to decrease the risk of suicide by hanging.

Included with today’s notice are example policies related to creating a ligature resistant environment. For an in-depth review of TJC’s Suicide Expert Panel see the StayAlert! Notice published on August 9, 2018.

Want to read the full alert and receive alert emails?

Browse Additional Alerts