Ligatures and/or Suicide Risk Reduction - Inpatient Psychiatric Units - Height Requirements

Is there a height requirement in order to consider something a “ligature risk” ?

Any examples are for illustrative purposes only.

There is no height requirement for a ligature risk. Information from various sources notes that suicides as a result of asphyxiation can occur at any height. Specifically, we have had multiple reports of suicides or suicide attempts during which patients fixed a ligature to a low pipe and around their neck and then spun their body (“alligator roll”) to twist the ligature until it asphyxiated them. Thus, low-to-the-ground exposed piping (such as piping near toilets or under the sink, for example) or any other apparatus protruding from the wall or another structure is still considered a ligature risk if the patient is able to create a sustainable point of attachment with another material in order to inflict self-harm or cause loss of life.

This FAQ was also published in the Perspectives® Newsletter, July 2018, Volume 38, Issue 7 - The Official Newsletter of The Joint Commission.
 
Last updated on March 19, 2020
Manual: Critical Access Hospital
Chapter: National Patient Safety Goals NPSG

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