Navigation Links
Severe Pain Can Trigger Suicide in Hospital ERs

By Julia VanTine
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- A group that accredits many U.S. hospitals has urged hospital and emergency-room caregivers to watch for attempted suicides in patients with no history of psychiatric problems.

The new alert, issued by the Joint Commission, stresses that it's not just psychiatric patients who kill themselves, citing as an example someone recently diagnosed with cancer who goes to an ER because the cancer-related pain has become unbearable.

"A patient who attempts suicide in the emergency room or a hospital's medical or surgical unit often has a different set of presenting complaints or a different diagnosis than a patient hospitalized in a psychiatric unit," said Dr. Robert Wise, a psychiatrist and medical adviser to the commission's division of healthcare quality evaluation.

The alert suggests strategies to help hospitals and ERs reduce the risk for suicide among such patients.

Of the 827 in-hospital suicides reported to the commission since 1995, almost 25 percent occurred in non-psychiatric settings, such as emergency rooms, cancer and intensive-care units and long-term care hospitals, the commission noted. The methods most often used were hanging, suffocation, intentional drug overdose and strangulation.

Because the suicides are reported voluntarily, there's no way to know how common the act is, Wise said. But a hospital in which a suicide occurs examines the circumstances to determine potential causes, "and that's probably more important than the actual prevalence, as it can help to prevent future occurrences," he said.

People with illnesses that cause chronic pain, such as cancer, or that cause a slow mental deterioration, such as dementia, may begin to have thoughts of suicide, he said.

"A patient diagnosed with cancer who is in intense, intractable pain may feel worn out and hopeless, even though they may not talk about the associated emotional issues of their disease," Wise said, adding that caregivers may not think to ask about it because that's not their initial focus.

"Emergency room and hospital staffs tend to see medical illness -- the high fever, chest pains that suggest serious medical problems," he said. "They may be less likely to think about how a cancer patient in unremitting pain feels when they are told the increase of pain is caused by the spread of the disease."

Elana Premack Sandler, a prevention specialist with the U.S. Suicide Prevention Resource Center, said that the commission's alert highlights the fact that not every person who dies by suicide has a psychiatric history. It gets health-care providers in hospital settings "to think outside the box about their roles -- to be equipped to know the warning signs of suicide and respond appropriately," she said.

Those warnings include irritability, agitation, complaints of unrelenting pain, refusing visitors or medications and requesting early discharge, the commission noted. Dementia, chronic pain or illness, end-stage cancer, acute signs of depression and drug or alcohol intoxication may also heighten suicide risk.

"These are signs that anyone -- like friends, family or co-workers -- can be aware of," Sandler said. And anyone who notices such signs, she said, should reach out to hospital staff or other mental-health professionals who could help.

Teaching hospital and ER staff members about suicide risk factors and warning signs of an imminent attempt is the first step, the alert said. Other strategies include:

  • Doing suicide screenings in the ER.
  • Screening all patients for depression when they're admitted to a hospital.
  • Checking anyone deemed to be at risk for items they could use to harm themselves.
  • Encouraging staff to call a mental health professional to evaluate patients believed to be at risk.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with 34,598 reported suicides in 2007, according to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more on suicide prevention.

SOURCES: Robert Wise, M.D., medical adviser, Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation, Joint Commission, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.; Elana Premack Sandler, L.C.S.W., M.P.H., prevention specialist, Suicide Prevention Resource Center, Newton, Mass.; Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert, November 2010

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Severe Bacterial Strain Found in Cystic Fibrosis Patients in Canada
2. Rare, Severe Form of Morning Sickness Appears to Be Genetic
3. Severe Acne May Up Suicide Risk: Study
4. A comparison of severe outcomes during the waves of pandemic (H1N1) 2009
5. Major clinical trial prompts call for change to treatment guidelines for severe malaria worldwide
6. Discovery shows promise against severe side effects
7. Severely injured should go directly to trauma center: Research
8. Johns Hopkins researchers turn off severe food allergies in mice
9. New treatment for severe aortic stenosis shown to save lives, Stanford researchers say
10. Disc Battery Ingestion May Cause Severe Injuries in Babies
11. Gene Rx May Fight Severe Blood Disorder
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Severe Pain Can Trigger Suicide in Hospital ERs
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... Somu Sivaramakrishnan ... a franchise owner, Somu now offers travelers, value and care based Travel Services, ... cruise sales, as well as, cabin upgrades and special amenities such as, shore ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... 2015 , ... PRMA Plastic Surgery is updating their record books yet again ... free flap breast reconstruction surgery! , “What an accomplishment for the PRMA team, says ... and it’s an honor to have served all of these women.” , PRMA is ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... ... wellness consultation, has collaborated with Women’s Web – an online resource for ... topics on mental and emotional well-being relationship, life balance, stress, professional development, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... all, Water For Empowerment ™ attracts volunteers together who want to combine ... empowering women as key stakeholders in the process. The non-profit launched its first ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Medical Solutions, one ... for its stellar workplace culture with the company’s Cincinnati office being named a ... Cincinnati office was named a finalist in Cincinnati Business Courier’s 13th annual Greater ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... Nov. 27, 2015 Research and Markets ( ... "Global Intrauterine Devices Market 2015-2019" report to their ... In this report, the author the present scenario ... for 2015-2019. To calculate the market size, the report ... of products: Hormonal IUDs and copper IUDs. The report ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... UTRECHT, the Netherlands , November 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ...   A new combination approach blends immunotherapy ... --> A new combination approach blends immunotherapy with ... A new combination approach blends immunotherapy with ... the Netherlands has found that immunotherapy ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 26, 2015 Research and Markets ( ... "2016 Future Horizons and Growth Strategies in ... Shares, Country Segment Forecasts, Competitive Intelligence, Emerging Opportunities" ... --> --> This new ... Japanese therapeutic drug monitoring market, including emerging tests, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: