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Recognizing a suicide crisis in psychiatric patients 

Recognizing a suicide crisis in psychiatric patients
Recognizing a suicide crisis in psychiatric patients

Herbert Hendin

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date: 05 July 2022

Data from therapists who were treating patients when they committed suicide were examined. Comparable information was obtained on depressed, non-suicidal patients treated by the same therapists. Three factors were identified as markers of a suicide crisis: precipitating events, changes in behaviour, and intense affective states. Of these, intense affective states appeared to be the most significant. The suicide patients had a significantly greater number of intense affects than did the comparison patients. The affect that most distinguished the two groups was desperation, which was intense in 30 of 36 (83 per cent) of the suicide patients but in none of the comparison patients. The study permitted us to develop a scaled Affective States Questionnaire (ASQ) which is being tested prospectively.

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