APA 2014: Suicide Attempts: Comparing ICU & ED Patients


The Particulars:  Numerous studies have evaluated the risk factors of suicidal attempts in order to determine the main causes. However, data are lacking on patients who have made a suicidal attempt and were admitted to an ICU.

Data Breakdown: Investigators conducted a prospective study that compared patients who attempted suicide and required hospitalization in the ICU with those who were evaluated in the ED. They observed the following:

Predominant Features Seen in ED Requiring ICU Admission
Gender Female (71.2%) Female (80.0%)
Marital status Married (45.8%) Single (45.8%)
Diagnosed disorder Anxiety disorders (42.4%) Affective disorders (36.7%)
Method Drug overdose (83.0%) Drug overdose (56.7%)


Among ICU patients, 60.0% had previously attempted suicide, compared with 37.3% of ED patients. More ICU patients had planned their suicide attempt than ED patients (34.5% vs 16.9%, respectively).

Take Home Pearls: Among patients who have attempted suicide, women appear to make up the majority of those seen in the ED and those requiring ICU admission. Drug overdose appears to be the predominant method for suicide attempts. Patients seen in the ICU predominantly had affective disorders, whereas those seen in the ED predominantly had anxiety disorders.

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