chapter  15
12 Pages

Calculated Risk-Taking in the Treatment of Suicidal Patients: Ethical and Legal Problems

Psychiatrists traditionally have held that it is their moral duty to prevent suicide by whatever legal means are at their disposal. For many years, this point of view supported the involuntary commitment of suicidal patients when they needed it and underlay older treatment philosophies that emphasized close monitoring and protection of every patient from self-harm (Battin, 1982; Lesse, 1965; Mintz, 1971; Shein & Stone, 1969). Many have observed, however, that whereas an attitude of close watchfulness may be necessary for patients in acute suicidal states, it can impede psychotherapy and recovery for patients who suffer from chronic suicidal character problems (Basecu, 1965; Birtchnell, 1983; Henden, 1981; Lx)wenthal, 1975; Olin, 1976).