The risk of suicide and psychiatric treatment
An extensive nationwide study in 2014 of the risk of suicide compared to the level of psychiatric treatment in Denmark found a direct negative association between the extent of psychiatric treatment and the risk of suicide: Hjorthøj CR, Madsen T, Agerbo E, Nordentoft M. Risk of suicide according to level of psychiatric treatment: a nationwide nested case-control study. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2014
Simply, the more psychiatric involvement, the greater likelihood of suicide.
“Conclusions: Psychiatric admission in the preceding year was highly associated with risk of dying from suicide. Furthermore, even individuals who have been in contact with psychiatric treatment but who have not been admitted are at highly increased risk of suicide.” 1 2
The study found these risk factors compared to those who had received no psychiatric treatment:
- 5.8 times the risk of suicide for those who had only received psychiatric medication
- 8.2 times the risk of suicide for those who had at most received outpatient psychiatrist treatment
- 27.9 times the risk of suicide for those who had contact with emergency departments
- 44.3 times the risk of suicide for those admitted to a psychiatric hospital
Attempts to explain away results – a cascading series of psychiatric failures
As is often the case with any honest appraisal of psychiatry’s effectiveness or negative effectiveness, in this case, there were attempts made to explain away the results of the 2014 study.
In one example, psychiatrists pointed out that the Denmark study didn’t take into account the severity of the person’s mental health situation when attending each level of psychiatric ‘service’. To loosely paraphrase: a person who only received psychiatric medication may be in far less of a serious mental condition than someone who was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
And ‘of course’ more would commit suicide.
What the results of the 2014 Danish study do point out is a cascading series of psychiatric failures.
In other words, there were failures of ‘treatment’ of those who received psychiatric medication. Some of those persons then receive outpatient psychiatrist treatment where more treatments fail. These people then appear at Emergency Departments and more failures ensue. Finally, persons are admitted to psychiatric hospitals where there is an astonishing rate of 44.3 times more failures than those who had no association with psychiatry at all.
- Hjorthøj CR, Madsen T, Agerbo E, Nordentoft M. Risk of suicide according to level of psychiatric treatment: a nationwide nested case-control study. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2014
- Large MM, Ryan CJ. Disturbing findings about the risk of suicide and psychiatric hospitals. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2014