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'Suicide tag', England, 1900-1935

This ‘suicide tag’ was used at Suffolk District Asylum between 1900 and 1935. It gave an individual nurse responsibility for a suicidal patient. Tags were handed over at the end of every shift to the next nurse on duty. This ensured continuous observation of the patient. The tag is made of brass. It is embossed with the name of the institution and the words, ‘This patient is not to be left’ and ‘No.41’. The number could mean 40 similar labels existed. This would indicate a significant number of vulnerable patients at risk within the Hospital.

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Glossary: label

Pieces of paper, leather, fabric, or small tablets inscribed and affixed to something for identification or description. In the context of bookbinding, refers specifically to paper or other material separate from that used to cover a book, on which the author's name and the title are printed or engraved and glued to the spine or front board.

Glossary: psychiatric hospital

Psychiatric hospital specialising in the treatment of serious mental illness, usually for relatively long-term patients.

Glossary: asylum

A historic term for a psychiatric hospital. The term in this context was common in the 1700s and 1800s, but is no longer in use.