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Patient suicides on the rise in Sweden: report

Clara Guibourg · 23 Aug 2011, 11:56

Published: 23 Aug 2011 11:56 GMT+02:00

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All suicides that occur during ongoing treatment, or within four weeks of completed treatment, must be reported according to Lex Maria.

According to figures from the Board of Health and Welfare, these reports have increased significantly over the past few years.

In 2007, 468 suicides were reported. Last year, that number had jumped to 599.

Most cases come from psychiatric clinics, but reports from both primary and geriatric care also occurred regularly, according to statistics.

“This just shows that the tendency to report suicides is increasing,” said the Board of Health and Welfare’s Helena Silfverhielm to The Local on Tuesday.

She does not believe the actual number of suicides has increased, but explains that increased information about reporting Lex Maria cases is a likely explanation for the increased reports.

“Many have been unaware about these regulations, but now it’s becoming more known,” she told The Local.

Gunilla Wahlén, chairwoman of SPES, a support organization for relatives, explained that suicidal patients are balled around the healthcare system, and when they’re discharged, it can take up to two weeks until aftercare is initiated – far too late.

“A suicide attempt is an urgent condition, where emergency care and help is needed, but the patient also needs continuity, and help over a longer period,” she said to national TV channel SVT.

According to Wahlén, depressed individuals are often met with the reply that there isn’t any free time until the following week.

Story continues below…

Silfverhielm agrees that today, Sweden’s psychiatric care is far from perfect.

“There are plenty of flaws in the system,” she told The Local on Tuesday.

Clara Guibourg (clarabara@hotmail.com)

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Your comments about this article

17:45 August 23, 2011 by jacquelinee
Poor people. Very sad indeed.

"According to Wahlén, depressed individuals are often met with the reply that there isn't any free time until the following week."

Typical. Or maybe they felt it would be quicker than to die slowly and painfully while they were trying to get someone(anyone) to send an ambulance.

"Most cases come from psychiatric clinics, but reports from both primary and geriatric care also occurred regularly, according to statistics."

Not surprised of reports coming from Geriatric care with the Swedish deathcare facilities. Are they SURE they were Suicides and not Homicides???
18:50 August 23, 2011 by Imperor
Not surprising when considering the appalling state of Swedish Healthcare... The Right-wing government have consciously driven it to these poor levels to "show the benefit of private clinics" by comparison!
19:21 August 23, 2011 by conboy
Eh not defending the right-wing Government but let us remember that it was Göran Persson and his mates Nuder and Karlsson in the so called social democrats who began the sell out of the health and care system to private interests. It is the reason why very very few people trust them any longer!
07:36 August 24, 2011 by Frobobbles
Suicide is often the most rational decision for a person that is ill.
08:09 August 24, 2011 by Grokh
Thanks to government changes people with mental problems now only have more reasons to stress , so suicide rates go up but fear not the moderaterna raised their own salaries
09:00 August 24, 2011 by cattie

You clearly have never been suffering major depression, anxiety disorder, or other mental illness in Sweden. When one is (as a symptom of their illness) less than rational, dealing with a system where there is only phone times twice a week for one hour, closing the windows of opportunity for many people. The queues for treatment of mental illness can range from several weeks to months to establish any contact with a doctor or therapist outside of the urgent care or emergency department. The acute care doctors are not well-equipped to handle the mentally ill and (since they are not psychiatrists) not familiar enough with psychopharmacology to follow-up or prescribe with anything to akin to best practices.

This is a MAJOR public health failure and needs to be treated as such.
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