This November 3, 2016 JAMA Viewpoint suggests the apparent association between a reduction of psychiatric beds and increasing suicide rates in the United States. The article proposes that the US needs to expand inpatient psychiatric treatment facilities to prevent suicides
Currently, the United States has a relatively low 22 psychiatric beds per 100 000 population compared with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average of 71 beds per 100 000 population. Only 4 of the 35 OECD countries (Italy, Chile, Turkey, and Mexico) have fewer psychiatric beds per 100 000 population than the United States. Although European health systems are very different from the US health system, they provide a useful comparison. For instance, Germany, Switzerland, and France have 127, 91, and 87 psychiatric beds per 100 000 population, respectively.4
Furthermore, between 1998 and 2013, the total number of psychiatric beds in the United States decreased from 34 to 22 beds per 100 000 population, a 35% reduction from an already low base rate of psychiatric beds per population. This reduction in the numbers of psychiatric beds led to higher bed occupancy rates, significantly lower average inpatient length of stay, and prolonged emergency department waiting times for patients with psychiatric illness who need to be hospitalized, all of which has contributed to an increased threshold for admission and decreased threshold for discharge for patients at risk of suicide.