Reducing Bathroom Suicide Risk: Your Fixtures Matter

By November 16, 2014 Blog, Suicide Prevention No Comments

stop-suicide-dispensers-250x300Suicide-Proofing Your Facility’s Restroom Fixtures

Suicide can happen anywhere and is often in the top ten causes of death for the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Facilities that deal with patients or inmates with mental health issues have an even greater risk of suicide then when it comes to visitors and residents. While there is no way to eliminate all possibilities of a suicide in your facility, you can take steps to curb the risk and keep visitors and residents safe by making sure your restrooms do not offer anyone a means to harm themselves or others.

Why Design and Fixtures Matter

In “Safe Design of Healthcare Facilities,” author J. Reiling noted that overall designs are often ignored or not noticed until something goes horribly wrong. This is especially true in mental health facilities, as approximately six percent of all suicides are inpatient, according to the Psychiatric Times. The publication also noted that while 25 percent of outpatient suicides resulted in a claim against the facility, close to 50 percent of inpatient suicides exposed the facility to liability.

Of the inpatient suicides, 75 percent occurred in areas where the patient was afforded privacy, including the bathroom. While many facilities have 15-minute ‘suicide watches’ on at-risk patients, studies have shown the time window is too long to prevent a person from committing suicide. Decreasing suicide watch time intervals can place a lot of stress on staff, so private areas must be secured to reduce risk instead.

Is Your Bathroom a Safe Space?

Given the occurrence rate of suicides in privacy-allowing spaces, your restroom must have anti-ligature fixtures and dispensers. Evaluate and upgrade fixtures as necessary to keep patients, inmates and visitors safe while reducing your organization’s exposure to legal liability. You will need to install anti-ligature fixtures and dispensers, such as the OPS 1-Touch, to keep your restroom as risk-free as possible.

The OPS 1-Touch is made of 14 or 16-gauge stainless steel, ensuring its durability. Patients cannot rip or pull pieces off the dispenser, and it carries a five-year warranty against acts of vandalism, making it the perfect soap dispenser for psychiatric facilities. The sloped top and rounded design do not offer any hang or ligature points, making it completely ligature resistant.

What Soap Dispensers Can Do?

The safest soap dispenser in your facility bathrooms is a must when it comes to overall safety of persons in the building. Bathroom visitors need reliable access to soap to prevent germ and bacteria transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since eliminating dispensers is not in the interest of public health, even in a facility with suicidal patients, the appropriate action to take is upgrading your current fixtures to safe models.

The OPS 1-Touch is an impenetrable soap foam dispensing unit that users cannot access. Since the soap refills are available in alcohol-free varieties, there is no lure for patients struggling with alcohol addiction. Its eight bolt mount system makes it impossible for users to remove the unit from the wall after installation, so they cannot use its pieces to harm themselves or others.

Review Your Entire Facility

Other risks lurk in the bathroom of your facility that you may not be aware of. Porcelain sinks and toilets, for example, can be broken into jagged, sharp pieces with enough force. The sharp pieces represent a risk to both patients and staff members, as they can be used for self-harm or as weapons. Any mirrors must be made of shatterproof materials, and loose toiletries should be avoided.

Not only does having durable fixtures protect your patients and staff, but also it reduces the time that employees spend cleaning. Weak plastic soap dispensers, for example, may be broken or have their contents spilled out by users. However, a stainless steel dispenser such as the OPS 1-Touch cannot be broken into by restroom visitors, decreasing the amount of time your janitorial staff must spend on restrooms.

For shampoo and body soap, you can also install the secure OPS 1-Touch dispenser in your showering areas. The OPS 1-Touch has body and hair shampoo refills available for its soap dispensing units, eliminating the need for loose personal care items such as bar soap and shampoo bottles. The foam is pleasantly scented, will not dry out skin and can be used to wash both hair and the body.

Kitchen areas also should be checked for soap dispenser types. Access to soap in a food making area is a must to prevent contamination, but patients and inmates may be able to get into kitchen spaces. Verify all soap dispensers in your food preparation spaces are safe for use by suicidal patients, such as the OPS 1-Touch. This stainless steel unit is warranty against vandalism from years after the date of purchase ensures your investment is protected if it is damaged in the kitchen by a vandal act.

Contact the experts at Vandal Proof today if you have any questions about the OPS 1-Touch dispenser and what it can do for your facility. Do not delay fixture safety upgrades for budgetary reasons, as a weak spot in this area can open your facility to costly legal action. The OPS 1-Touch’s warranty will secure your investment for years to come.

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