Trial of pulse monitoring for suicide prevention

Published: 15 Jan 2018

In an Australian-first trial, patients at risk of suicide will wear a device that monitors their blood oxygen levels and pulse.

At least 40 mental health patients being cared for in the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit at Newcastle’s Mater Campus will take part in a trial to use a back-to-base pulse oximetry wireless device as a suicide prevention tool, in addition to other observation tools.

Staff will be alerted if a patient’s vital signs change or if they remove the device.

The trial is being led by the Black Dog Institute and Hunter New England Local Health District.

Dr Fiona Shand, a Senior Research Fellow at Black Dog Institute and lead trial researcher, said the device is a less intrusive way to monitor people who are vulnerable to suicide.

“It could bring greater freedom of movement and comfort for patients,” Dr Shand said.

Nursing staff would also have more time to spend helping patients.

Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies said suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44 years.

“This trial is an important step in the search for better ways to support people in NSW living with mental illness, particularly when they are in hospital and need the most support,” Mrs Davies said.

“The NSW Government is committed to reducing suicide rates across the state and will continue to work with non-government organisations on these important suicide prevention projects.”

If you or someone you know needs crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For mental health services please contact the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511.

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