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Original Research

Changes in Inpatient and Postdischarge Suicide Rates in a Nationwide Cohort of Danish Psychiatric Inpatients, 1998-2005

Trine Madsen, PhD, and Merete Nordentoft, MD

Published: December 15, 2013

Article Abstract

Background: A reduction in the number of inpatient beds as well as shorter admissions have aroused concern that tendencies to deinstitutionalize may increase the suicide rate for psychiatric patients who have been hospitalized. One study indicates that a decreasing inpatient suicide rate may actually reflect a transfer to an increasing postdischarge suicide rate; however, uncertainties exist about this transfer, since it is not well studied. The objectives of this study were to estimate adjusted changes over time in suicide rates among psychiatric inpatients and recently discharged psychiatric patients and to estimate changes in these rates by gender and diagnosis.

Method: Data on all psychiatric patients admitted from 1998 through 2005 in Denmark were extracted from the Danish Psychiatric Central Register and merged with information from the Danish Cause of Death Register. Calendar year was applied as an independent continuous variable in Cox survival analyses modeling the hazard of suicide during inpatient treatment and during the 3-month postdischarge period. Analyses were adjusted for sex, age, educational status, primary diagnosis, and previous suicide attempt.

Results: The overall inpatient suicide rate declined in psychiatric patients admitted from 1998 through 2005 (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.93 [95% CI, 0.88-0.99]), particularly among women (HR = 0.87 [95% CI, 0.79-0.96]). The overall rate of suicide in the 3-month postdischarge period also declined significantly (HR = 0.94 [95% CI, 0.91-0.98]), which was explained mostly by a falling rate among men (HR = 0.94 [95% CI, 0.90-0.98]) as well as among patients who were discharged with a diagnosis of schizophrenia (HR = 0.90 [95% CI, 0.83-0.99]).

Conclusions: Although our results show a decreasing trend in suicide rates, the sizes of the rates emphasize that focus on suicide in mental health care settings must continue and be improved, as the rates are still very high.

J Clin Psychiatry 2013;74(12):e1190-e1194

Submitted: June 27, 2013; accepted September 18, 2013 (doi:10.4088/JCP.13m08656).

Corresponding author: Trine Madsen, PhD, Psychiatric Center Copenhagen, Copenhagen University Hospital, Bispebjerg Bakke 23, Bldg 13A, 2400 Copenhagen, Denmark (

Volume: 74

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