OSLO, March 18 (Xinhua) -- A total of 15 psychiatry patients took their own life during the first month of 2017, newspaper Aftenposten reported Saturday.
There were 137 suicide cases among psychiatry patients last year, which was far more than in previous years. From 2011 until January this year, 618 people committed suicide while they were patients in mental health care, according to the statistics from the board of health supervision.
The statistics have shown that alerts about serious incidents within the special health services have been increasing from year to year. Notifications from mental health care make up around half of them and a large part is related to suicide and attempted suicide.
"The duty of notification is relatively new and we know that it takes time before new arrangements are fully implemented in all areas," said the board's acting director Heidi Merete Rudi.
She added that the increased number of alerts about suicide and other incidents just as easily could be caused by bigger focus and increased work with patient safety, as by actual increased number of incidents.
The board of health supervision is therefore cautious to make any conclusions based on the number of alerts alone, Aftenposten wrote.
Professor Lars Mehlum, head of the National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, told Aftenposten that the high figures hardly reflect the worsening of patients treatment.
"The reason is probably bigger and bigger focus on ensuring that such cases must be reported to health authorities. But we do not actually know, because the quality of the data around the registration of these events has been so bad. It is getting better now," Mehlum said.
The centre is now establishing a registration and investigation system, where the experts shall systematically go through all the suicides happening within psychiatry.
Erland Vestli, director of Leve, a Norwegian organization for suicide survivors, expressed positive impression of health care system.
"But we are totally dependent on qualified assistance that can be aware of suicide risk and closely monitor patients," he added.
The number of suicides generally rises and it may not be surprising that the same happens in psychiatry, Vestli said.
In 2015 the number of suicides increased again after a few years of decline.
"Preventing suicide is a challenge that the whole society must take much more seriously and we call for greater expertise and earmarked funds for those on the front lines in the municipalities," Vestli said.