Suicides are avoidable, says charity

Defeatist attitudes among professionals pose a barrier to
helping potential suicide victims, says the National Schizophrenia

The charity gave this blunt message as it published the findings
of a major survey of suicides among people diagnosed

Gary Hogman, research and policy officer at the fellowship,
said: ‘The attitude of many health and social work professionals is
that people at risk of suicide are going to do it; they’re going to
find some way; it’s random and unpredictable and there’s not much
you can do about it.

‘But that’s not true,’ he said.

The survey examined 310 incidents of suicide and unnatural
deaths between April 1991 and June 1995 among people diagnosed as
schizophrenic. It found that 30 per cent of those who committed
suicide were hospital in-patients, qualifying the view of crises
occurring in the community.

Despite this, Bharat Mehta, the fellowship’s chief executive,
said there was a clear link between shortage of hospital beds
leading to discharge into the community and suicides: ‘Suicide
rates are highest in the first month after discharge from hospital.
People are discharged too soon.’

The Department of Health last week noted a drop in the overall
suicide rate, by 5 per cent between 1992 and 1993; and 2 per cent
the following year. But the NSF said figures on the rate for
mentally ill people were not available.

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