Lifelines pp 103-114 | Cite as

Care of the Suicidal Patient in the Emergency Setting

  • Ellen L. Bassuk


Clara R., a 25-year-old teacher, was brought by ambulance to the emergency ward of a general hospital. The emergency medical technicians (EMTs) reported that she had swallowed several handfuls of pills after an argument with her boyfriend. The EMTs could not identify the type or number of pills and they had been unable to find the bottle.

On arrival, the patient refused to discuss the overdose, appeared drowsy and smelled of alcohol. Her medical record described multiple suicide attempts including several of high lethality. Within the previous six months the overdoses had increased in severity and frequency. During this period she had been hospitalized twice, each time was referred for outpatient psychotherapy, but dropped out after several sessions. Similarly, she refused follow-up after her most recent emergency visit.


Suicidal Behavior Emergency Service Emergency Setting Crisis Intervention Suicidal Patient 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen L. Bassuk
    • 1
  1. 1.Harvard Medical SchoolUSA

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