Objective: To determine the effectiveness over one year of a specific telephone management programme on patients discharged from an emergency department (ED) after a suicide attempt. We hypothesized that the programme will reduce the percentage of patients re-attempting suicide and delay the time between attempts. Design: A multicentre, case-control, population-based study. The effect of the 1-year intervention on the main outcome measures was evaluated with respect to a 1-year baseline period and a control group. Setting: Two hospitals with distinct catchment areas in Catalonia (Spain). Participants: A total of 991 patients discharged from the ED of either hospital after a suicide attempt during the baseline year and the intervention year. Intervention: The intervention was carried out on patients discharged from the ED for attempted suicide (Sabadell). It consisted of a systematic, one-year telephone follow-up programme: after 1 week, thereafter at 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12-month intervals, to assess the risk of suicide and increasing adherence to treatment. The population in the control group (Terrassa) received treatment as usual after discharge, without additional telephone management. Main outcome measures: Time elapsed between initial suicide attempt and subsequent one, and changes in the annual rate of patients who reattempted suicide in the year of the intervention and the preceding one. Results: The telephone management programme delayed suicide reattempts in the intervention group compared to the baseline year (mean time in days to first reattempt, year 2008=346.47, sd=4.65; mean time in days to first reattempt, year 2007=316.46, sd=7.18; P<0.0005; χ=12.1, df=1) and compared to the control population during the same period (mean time in days to first reattempt, treatment period=346.47, sd=4.65; mean time in days to first reattempt, pre-treatment period=300.36, sd=10.67; P<0.0005; χ=16.8, df=1). The intervention reduced the rate of patients who reattempted suicide in the experimental population compared to the previous year (Intervention 6% (16/296) v Baseline 14% (39/285) difference 8%, 95% confidence interval 2% to 12%) and to the control population (Intervention 6% (16/296) v Control 14% (31/218) difference 8%, -13% to -2%) Limitations: One of the main obstacles was the difficulty to contact all patients within the established deadlines. Another limitation of our study was that patients under the age of 18 underwent an intensive intervention in the day hospital, although their number was very small (13/319 in 2008) and did not significantly influence the results. But the main limitation of our study was that it was performed within the EAAD project. This project includes a comprehensive multilevel intervention practically in the same experimental area and aimed at an early diagnosis and treatment of depression, which is the main psychiatric disorder associated with suicide. Moreover, longer-term studies should be encouraged to determine whether such interventions really reduce suicide Conclusion: A telephone management programme for patients discharged from an ED after a suicide attempted would be a useful strategy in delaying further suicide attempts and in reducing the rate of reattempts, which is known as the highest risk factor for suicide completion. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
- Discharge from emergency department
- Experimental study
- Suicide attempt
- Suicide prevention
- Telephone follow-up