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Open Access Research article

The “Suicide Guard Rail”: a minimal structural intervention in hospitals reduces suicide jumps

Andreas Mohl12, Niklaus Stulz1, Andrea Martin23, Franz Eigenmann2, Urs Hepp1, Jürg Hüsler4 and Jürg H Beer25*

Author Affiliations

1 Psychiatric Services Aargau AG/Teaching Hospital of the University of Zurich, Haselstrasse 1, P.O. Box 1044, Baden, CH-5401, Switzerland

2 Department of Medicine, Cantonal Hospital of Baden/Teaching Hospital of the University of Bern and the University of Zurich, Baden, CH-5404, Switzerland

3 Clinic and Policlinic for Anaesthesiology and Pain Therapy, Bern University Hospital, BHH F-230, Bern, CH-3010, Switzerland

4 Institute of Mathematical Statistics and Actuarial Science, University of Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, Bern, CH-3012, Switzerland

5 Department of Medicine, Bern University Hospital, Bern, CH-3010, Switzerland

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:408  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-408

Published: 4 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Jumping from heights is a readily available and lethal method of suicide. This study examined the effectiveness of a minimal structural intervention in preventing suicide jumps at a Swiss general teaching hospital. Following a series of suicide jumps out of the hospital’s windows, a metal guard rail was installed at each window of the high-rise building.

Results

In the 114 months prior to the installation of the metal guard rail, 10 suicides by jumping out of the hospital’s windows occurred among 119,269 inpatients. This figure was significantly reduced to 2 fatal incidents among 104,435 inpatients treated during the 78 months immediately following the installation of the rails at the hospital’s windows (χ2 = 4.34, df = 1, p = .037).

Conclusions

Even a minimal structural intervention might prevent suicide jumps in a general hospital. Further work is needed to examine the effectiveness of minimal structural interventions in preventing suicide jumps.