We were both saddened and heartened by the growing use of the anti-ligature door handles we sell. We are saddened because doors have become a tool for suicide. We are encouraged because a product we offer is helping people who are very ill.
The word “ligature” refers to something that binds. Anti-ligature hardware won’t hold a knotted piece of rope, twine, or other binding material.
Is a knot tied to a door handle of grave concern? Yes, it is—especially within the mental health and incarceration communities and families with members suffering from depression.
Please keep reading to learn more about anti-ligature products and what they do.
Why Anti-Ligature Door Handles?
The answer to “why anti-ligature door handles” is that for people with severe mental illness, tying a rope, electrical cord, lanyard, etc. is a way to end their lives. Those who care for the mentally ill know this quite well.
Unfortunately, most other people are entirely unaware of this phenomenon. They often picture nooses hanging from ceilings or shower rods, with stools to kick out of the way.
That’s what you see in movies—it’s a less common real-life scenario, though.
Mental hospitals, prisons, and other institutions learned of the noose long ago and discovered what should not be kept in a prison cell or a mental health patient’s room.
They’re now trying to combat what they hope will be their last challenge in saving lives. Most don’t believe it actually will be their last challenge, but at least it’s one more safety measure to have available.
How Does Anti-Ligature Hardware Work?
Quite simply, anti-ligature hardware is any hardware designed not to hold a ligature, meaning a binding or a knot. Other equipment serves similar purposes, including door alarms and concealed hinges.
The exposed surfaces of ligature-resistant door handles have sloped or curved corners. It makes attaching cords and similar objects all but impossible. Plus, the door handle will still function like most other doors.
A remarkable variety of anti-ligature door handles and other anti-ligature hardware is available today to help patients at risk.
Mortise locks, which are also anti-ligature locks, are deadbolts installed in pockets carved into the sides of doors. You can position them to lock from the outside only. There is no protruding hardware when the door is open—only a flat surface on the side of the door.
Door alarms help prevent someone from suspending a noose-like cord from the top of a door. Suicide prevention devices also include doors with continuous hinges and drop-down panels at the top. These prevent someone from successfully attaching any ropes or cables.
Creating a Safe Healthcare Environment Through Universal Design (UD)
Retrofitting healthcare facilities can be a costly undertaking, especially when you focus on one group instead of everyone who might use a particular facility.
Mental health patients often start their healthcare journeys in multipurpose hospital facilities. For patients at risk for suicide, this can be very dangerous.
Did you know that 75% of hospital suicides occur in patient bathrooms, where roughly 14 different ligatures or other danger points can be found? For example, porcelain sinks and toilets break easily into sharp-edged pieces.
This Is Where UD Becomes Relevant
Why do so many public or shared bathrooms have porcelain fixtures, to begin with? Porcelain fixtures tend to break, no matter what the reason. Why not use stainless steel instead? It’s easy to clean and doesn’t break.
Broken bathroom fixtures are only one example of why UD is needed. Replacing porcelain with stainless steel is a practical measure. But it does little for the morale of mental health patients if its use is not commonplace.
What About the “Design” in UD?
Why treat mental health patients differently from other kinds of patients? Many healthcare facilities are upgrading their look, with vibrant colors and modern furniture—that is also made to be durable and should be in any public place.
These makeovers might be expensive. But then think of the benefit to anyone who isn’t feeling well when someone enlivens their recovery space. Think about those who work there, too.
What About the “Universal” in UD?
So, shouldn’t builders equip all rooms with anti-ligature hardware? Doing so would help the rooms to better accommodate a broader spectrum of patients. It also would make it easier for someone whose arms are loaded to open the door.
We see many hospitals and clinics today moving in this direction. Installing hardware to stop suicide attempts only sends a negative message to those with mental health when they know other patient rooms don’t have it.
Having nicely designed anti-ligature products for those in treatment for mental illness is a good starting point. Still, much more is needed to de-stigmatize depression and other mental health difficulties.
UD has become a standard for today’s architecture firms and educational institutions. It is helping older people navigate their world with greater adeptness and sharing the same enabling technologies with younger people who need them for different reasons.
Anti-Ligature Handles Are a Beginning
Anti-ligature door handles and other anti-ligature industrial door supplies are saving lives. Now, let’s see what we can do for other ligature points, such as those in bathrooms.
The fixtures could send more positive messages to those who are sick. Curvy designs, for instance, are both interesting and ergonomically useful.
How We Can Continue to Help
While we’re at it, could some enterprising company please do something about those humiliating hospital gowns people have to wear?
We might be getting carried away with our ideas here. But universal design is something we take seriously—both as a way to level the human playing field and equip people with the dignity and physical tools they need and deserve to be well.
Accurate Door & Hardware is making strides in this direction. People —perhaps people like you—need what we have to offer. So reach out to us today, and tell us how we can help.