A recent study has found that men under 50 are more likely to die from suicide than any other cause in the 30 days after being discharged.
A study of public hospital emergency departments in Perth conducted on 270, 000 patients aged 15 and over attending the emergency departments of seven Perth hospitals between June 2000 and July 2003 found nine men aged under 50 committed suicide within weeks of being discharged. The sample included terminally ill cancer patients.
It was found that of those who were discharged and not admitted to hospital, 0.2 % died in the 30 days after attending an emergency department.
Emergency physician Dr Sandra Neate, of Melbourne's St Vincent's Hospital, said the most surprising finding was the nine men aged under 50 who died of self-harm within weeks of being discharged from an emergency department.
It was found that very few presented with symptoms that might have alerted a physician to them being a suicide risk. Their reasons for attendance included back and neck pain, headache, review of prescription medicine and gastrointestinal diarrhoea. By comparison, women aged under 50 were most likely to die of breast cancer in the weeks after an emergency department discharge.
The research found the five most significant factors for predicting risk of death overall included the urgency given to a patient's case on arrival at emergency, increasing age, being admitted to hospital, seeking help for an illness rather than an injury and male gender.