Mental Health Disorders

Mental Health Disorders play a major role in the cause of suicidal behaviour.

• Depression
• Bipolar disorder
• Psychosis, such as schizophrenia, has a high risk
• Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following childhood abuse carries a high risk (Beautrais A. (2004) Risk and Protective Factors for Suicide for Men in the Middle Years. Cantrbury Suicide Project. NZ.)
• Admission to a mental health unit in the last year has a high risk
• The presence of more than one Mental Health Disorder when the Mental Health Disorder is combined with harmful drug use (De Leo D, Hickey P, Neulinger K, Cantor K. (1999) Ageing and suicide: A Report to the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care. Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention, Griffith University and * Beautrais A. (2004) Risk and Protective Factors for Suicide for Men in the Middle Years. Cantrbury Suicide Project. NZ. )

Psychiatric care provides a marker of this risk and being an inpatient or recently discharged from a mental health service is associated with increased risk for suicide (DeLeo D, Evans R. (2004) International Suicide Rates and Prevention Strategies.)

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International studies suggest that up to 41% of people who die by suicide have been discharged from psychiatric inpatient care within the preceding 12 months and 9% are inpatients at the time of their death or die on the day of discharge
( Pirkis J, Burgess P. (1998) Suicide and Recency of contact with Health care: a systematic review. British J Psych. 173:462 – 474.)

Around the time of discharge from inpatient care, mental health clients have a risk about 100 times that of the general population (Chipps J, Stewart G, Sayer G (1995) Suicide Mortality in NSW: Clients of Mental Health services NSW Public Health Bulletin, 6(8): 75 – 81.)

In Queensland, between 1990 - 1995, almost twice as many suicides occurred in hospital compared with those in custody (Baume B, Cantor C, McTaggert P (1998) Suicides in Queensland:A Comprehensive Study. Aust Inst for Suicide Research and Prevention, Brisbane)

Discrimination and stigma are thought to contribute to suicidal risk as they contribute to isolation, loneliness, unemployment and homelessness (Tehan M, Murray D. (1996) Signs of Hope Jesuit Social Services Ltd, Melbourne)

Mental health suicide prevention programs need to address issues such as stigma, substance abuse, crime prevention and media coverage. As well, they need to give specific information to patients on how to deal with suicidal thoughts if they occur.