I gave Psychiatry Grand Rounds yesterday at the University of Arkansas Medical School in Little Rock. During the tour of the beautiful, modern and environmentally-state of the art Psychiatric Research Institute, I was impressed by something called a “suicide resistant door”.
One of the challenges of inpatient psychiatric services is that while you want to give patients privacy and insulation from noise, putting doors in their rooms carries risk. The problem is that the hard top of good strong door will support the weight of a patient who hangs him or herself (e.g., by stringing twisted bedsheets around the throat).
The ingenious doors at the Psychiatric Research Institute were solid to the touch, but a triangular section of wood at the top right of the door is inset in a slot within the rest of the structure. This triangular section rests on an interior support that can only take 5 pounds of pressure. If you put any more pressure that that on the door top, the triangular piece collapses into the interior, making the top of the door angled, smooth and virtually impossible to hang oneself on.
Brilliant innovation, props to the Institute for adopting it. May many other psychiatric facilities follow suit.