Mental health patients most at risk of suicide in first two weeks after being released.

Mental health patients are at the highest risk of committing suicide in the first two weeks after leaving hospital, latest figures have shown.

Data from the report entitled: National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness was being presented to healthcare leaders on 16 July.

It revealed some 3,225 patients committed suicide in the UK within the first three months of their discharge from hospital between 2002 and 2012 - with patients being most at risk during the first two weeks after their hospital release.

Health leaders are now calling for more effective care planning for patients before they are discharged.

Professor Louis Appleby, director of the National Confidential Inquiry, who led the study said: "Our latest data shows the first three months after discharge remain the time of highest risk but especially in the first one to two weeks. This increased risk has been linked to short admissions and to life events so our recommendations are that careful and effective care planning is needed including for patients before they are discharged and for those who self-discharge.

"Early follow-up appointments should be strengthened and reducing the length of in-patient stay to ease pressure on beds should not be an aim in itself. Instead health professionals should ensure the adverse events that preceded the admission have been addressed."

Hanging remains a common method for suicide. In 2012, there were 2,994 suicides by hanging in the UK of which 813 were mental health patients.

Professor Nav Kapur, head of suicide research at the National Confidential Inquiry, said: "The increase in hanging may be related to restrictions on the availability of other method and the misconception that hanging is a quick and painless way to die - but this is not the case and is also highly distressing for family members who discover the body.

"This method is difficult to prevent outside institutional settings but there is a broad responsibility for preventing suicide by this means. In particular it would be helpful for the media to ensure that in avoiding the depiction of full details of suicides by hanging, they do not inadvertently make it appear to be a non-traumatic method."

Some 828 mental health patients were convicted of homicide in the UK between 2002-2012, this equated to an average 75 per year.

Almost a fifth of homicides were committed by loved-ones, 13% of perpetrators were mental health patients.

Professor Jenny Shaw, head of homicide research on the inquiry, said: "Mental health services need to recognise their role in preventing domestic violence, working with other agencies. We need to improve the mental health of perpetrators to protect victims."

The data was commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) on behalf of NHS England, the Health Department of the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety Northern Ireland and Jersey.