Changing motivation in severely suicidal patients.
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While the ambiguity of suicidal patients' stated motivations has been studied in some detail, less attention has been given to the changeability of their motivations. Twenty-six patients who had taken an overdose of paraquat, a highly lethal herbicide, were questioned about their motivation at the time of admission and 24 hours and 3, 7 and 10 days later. Although 25 patients claimed that they wished to die at the time of admission, all of the 14 surviving patients wished to live at the time of discharge from hospital. Of the 12 patients who died, 6 stated that they no longer wished to die in the last interview before their death. During the following year 3 of the 14 surviving patients killed themselves. The findings emphasize the importance of thoroughly assessing all aspects of the suicidal patient's situation in determining risks. The patient's stated intentions should be but one factor considered.