n South African Journal of Psychiatry - Overcrowding as a possible risk factor for inpatient suicide in a South African psychiatric hospital : letter




The risk of suicide among people with mental illness is estimated to be 10 times higher than in the general population. About 4% of all suicides in England and Wales are estimated to occur while the person is an inpatient in a psychiatric facility. Surveys have found that most psychiatrists have personal experience of the suicide of a patient under their care in hospital. In order to actualise efficacious treatment, it is imperative that the contributing causes of inpatient suicides be examined.

The purpose of this letter is to explore the potential risk factors and to consider the possibility of whether overcrowding could have been a contributing element when three inpatients committed suicide in the male acute ward of a psychiatric hospital in the Eastern Cape, between March 2012 and August 2013.


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