Little is known about the long-term mortality and causes of death after first psychiatric admission.
A consecutive series of 87 patients admitted for the first time from a strictly defined catchment area to Saxondale Hospital, Nottinghamshire, who were discharged in 1974 and 1975, were traced in 1992 to either their general practitioner or death. The causes of their deaths were ascertained and the observed mortality was compared with expected mortality.
Twelve subjects had died. None had committed suicide, and there were no open verdicts or accidental deaths. Although the observed mortality was higher than expected, there was no significant excess.
There may be little scope for reducing suicide rates by targeting patients for careful follow-up after discharge from their first psychiatric admission. More research is required before large investments are made in potentially fruitless interventions to achieve the objectives of The Health of the Nation.