[Suicidal behavior of depressed patients at inpatient admission]

H J Haug, B Ahrens, R D Stieglitz
Der Nervenarzt 1995, 66 (1): 28-35
Early recognition of suicidal behavior is of extreme importance for avoidance of this cause of death. The risk of suicide attempts is particularly high in psychiatric illness, and among hospital in-patients especially in those with depression. Thus, the risk of suicide should be estimated in the first interview after admission to a psychiatric hospital. Our study analysed the routine documentation of such interviews on admission to the Psychiatrische Klinik der Freien Universität in Berlin: 41% of all depressive patients were suicidal. Suicidal and non-suicidal depressive patients could be differentiated by the following traits: suicidal patients were younger, had been younger at the initial onset of depressive illness, had made more suicide attempts in the past, and had a greater number of relatives who had committed suicide or made suicide attempts. They were more often single or divorced, and had fewer children of their own. Their psychopathology was characterized by a more strongly developed syndrome of depression, hostility and apathy. These findings point to a pattern of characteristics that are linked with suicidal behavior, which can be used to estimate the risk of suicide right at the beginning of a stay in hospital.

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