From the Journals

Near-hanging injuries: Critical care, psychiatric management


Patient characteristics

Consistent with previous research, near-hanging patients are predominantly male, have at least one psychiatric diagnosis and a previous suicidal attempt (rarely by hanging), and abuse substances such as an alcohol, Stéphane Legriel, MD, PhD, the study’s corresponding author, said in an interview. Overall, 67.7% of the patients had a diagnosed mental illness and 30% had previously attempted suicide. Most of the hangings took place at home (79%), while some took place in a hospital ward (6%), a correctional facility (7%), or outside (5%).

The study had several limitations: It applied only to near-hanging patients admitted to the ICU, and its long duration may have resulted in heterogeneity of the population and therapeutic interventions, and in some missing data. “However, the multivariate analysis was adjusted for the time period and we carried out a sensitivity analysis after multiple imputation for missing data by means of chained equations, which reinforces confidence in our findings,” Dr. Legriel said. Next steps are to conduct a prospective data collection.

Postdischarge recovery and psychiatric follow-up

Those left to treat survivors of near-hangings are psychiatrists and other mental health clinicians, Eric M. Plakun, MD, said in an interview.

“Some of these survivors will regret they survived and remain high suicide risks. Some will feel their lives are transformed or at least no longer as intensely drawn to suicide as a solution to a life filled with the impact of adversity, trauma, comorbidity, and other struggles – but even these individuals will still have to face the often complex underlying issues that led them to choose suicide as a solution,” said Dr. Plakun, medical director and CEO of the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Mass.

Patients with medically serious suicide attempts are seen a lot at Austen Riggs, he said, because acute inpatient settings are designed for brief, crisis-focused treatment of those for whom safety is an issue. After the crisis has been stabilized, patients are discharged, and then must begin to achieve recovery as outpatients, he said.

John Kruse, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist who practices in San Francisco, praised the size and the breath of the study. “One limitation was the reliance on hospital records, without an opportunity to directly evaluate or interview the patients involved.”

The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest. The study received grant support from the French public funding agency, Délégation la Recherche Clinique et de l’Innovation in Versailles, France.

SOURCE: de Charentenay L et al. 2020 Aug 3. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2020.07.064


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