Patient suicides on the rise in Sweden: report

Suicides among patients are increasing, show new figures from Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare.

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.

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.

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