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October 1974

Attempted Suicide as an Operant Behavior

Author Affiliations

From the Royal Hobart Hospital, Mental Health Services Commission (T. Bostock), and the University of Tasmania (C. Williams).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;31(4):482-486. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760160034008

In the light of the increased incidence of attempted suicide and the stress this imposes on medical resources, alternative approaches to management need to be considered. Where it can be established that the suicidal behavior has an operant component, management according to behavioral principles would appear relevant.

The behavior of a 20-year-old woman who exhibited repeated suicidal behavior was managed within a ward program by means of operant principles. After 27 months of follow-up, there has been no recurrence for 18 months.

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