Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Although the vast majority of suicides occur outside of healthcare facilities, many suicides occur every year in healthcare facilities, as well as in the time shortly after discharge—impacting psychiatric hospitals, psychiatric units within general hospitals, general medical/surgical wards and emergency departments.
The Joint Commission assembled an expert panel with representatives from provider organizations, experts in suicide prevention and design of behavioral healthcare facilities, Joint Commission surveyors and staff and other key stakeholders.
The expert panel convened at The Joint Commission on June 9 and Aug. 18, 2017. During these meetings, a formal consensus process was used to develop several recommendations, addressing priority issues related to environmental hazards. The panel reviewed suicide data from healthcare organizations to help inform their decisions on the risk posed by specific potential ligature risk points.
The panel also met for a third time on Oct. 11 to discuss the impact of ligature risk points in other behavioral healthcare settings, such as residential treatment, partial hospitalization and outpatient settings. The recommendations from this meeting will be added to the current recommendations.
The Joint Commission believes the ongoing work of the panel will be an important resource in trying to reach national consensus on the many challenging issues involved in caring for suicidal patients. The panel will reconvene later this year to discuss mitigation plans, including recommendations for monitoring patients with serious suicidal ideation in settings that are not ligature resistant.