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Risk Factors for Co-Occurring Violent and Suicidal Behaviors Among Psychiatric Inpatients

Elizabeth Low, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Violent and suicidal behaviors by psychiatric and forensic inpatients present significant concerns to patients, staff, and hospital operations. While these behaviors are disruptive in their own right, the extant literature suggests strong evidence for the comorbidity of violence and suicide. Research indicates that there are shared risk factors for the two behaviors, as well as risk factors unique to their comorbidity. However, the co-occurrence of violent and suicidal behaviors within a clinically meaningful time frame has received little empirical investigation. This study examined the risk factors and behavioral characteristics of inpatient suicidal and violent behaviors that co-occurred within a period of two years among a sample of psychiatric and forensic patient (N = 238). Nearly half of the sample did not engage in any violent or suicidal behaviors within the facility. Regarding problematic behavior within the facility, about 40% of patients engaged in violence only, 4% engaged in only suicidal behaviors, and 16% engaged in co-occurring violence and suicidal behaviors. Results indicated that clinical risk factors for co-occurring behaviors included higher number of risk factors on a suicide risk assessment, agitation, and impulsivity. In addition, patients who engaged in continued disruptive behaviors were more likely to also engage in co-occurring violence and suicidal behaviors. The results suggested strategies for effectively assessing risk of comorbid inpatient violent and suicidal behaviors. Implication for management practices and future research are discussed.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Health care management|Behavioral psychology

Recommended Citation

Low, Elizabeth, "Risk Factors for Co-Occurring Violent and Suicidal Behaviors Among Psychiatric Inpatients" (2019). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI22615355.