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Importance of Anti Ligature Mirrors - Complete Guide


Hanging is the main method of suicide for mental health service users. Establishments responsible for looking after people have a duty to ensure environments and facilities are safe and secure. In this post we look at the importance of anti-ligature mirrors in this context.

What is Anti Ligature?

To appreciate what anti-ligature means requires clarification of what a ligature is. The dictionary definition for `ligature` is:

“A thing used for tying or binding something tightly.”

Anti-ligature therefore means the prevention of tying or binding.

Ligature risk exists when there are ligature risk points in an environment. These can be anything to which a cord, rope, shoelace or anything else might be attached by a suicidal person to cause harm to themselves. Anti ligature products and devices are intended to prevent vulnerable people from intentionally or accidentally self-harming. Anti ligature considerations are vitally important in hospitals, mental health facilities, police station cells, prisons, young offenders institutions, migrant detention centres and many other environments.

Most Common Method of Suicide

Figures from the Office for National Statistics tell us that in 2020 there were 5,224 suicides registered in England and Wales. This equates to an age-standardised mortality rate of 10 deaths per 100,000 people. This represents an apparent decrease from the 2019 rate of 11 deaths per 100,000 but this decline is reported to be due to a decrease in male deaths at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and delays in the registration of deaths due to the pandemic.

In 2021 there was a recorded increase to 5,583 suicides registered in England and Wales, equivalent to a rate of 10.7 deaths per 100,000 people. This was consistent with pre-pandemic suicide rates in 2019 and 2018.

Males and females aged between 45 and 49 had the highest age-specific suicide rate and just over 75% of deaths were men, which is consistent with previous statistics. London is reported to have the lowest suicide rate while the highest rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 was in the North East.

Suicide trends over time show that males aged 10 to 24 have always had the lowest rates. Since 2010 statistics show that men aged from 45 to 64 have the highest age-specific suicide rates and in 2020 the suicide rate in this age group was 20 in 100,000, double the overall standardised rate.

Sadly, the percentage of suicides by hanging, strangulation and suffocation has increased in recent years. This method is reported to have been used in 58.1% of suicides in 2020. It is noted that hanging was the method used in 77.8% of suicides for young people aged from 10 to 14 years over the period from 2018 to 2020.

Assessing Ligature Risks

Making the physical environments in mental health establishments, youth institutions, prisons, police cells and detention centres as safe as possible is vital. This means care and attention must be applied to all aspects, from the design to the selection of fixtures, fittings and furniture. For those responsible for risk assessment, this means recognising every potential ligature point that could be identified to attach a cord or other material that might be used to attempt hanging or strangulation.

Generally, attempted suicides are 10 to 20 times more frequent than fatal suicides and a very high proportion of suicide attempts are initiated impulsively. Studies have shown that impulsive suicide attempts combined with the availability of fatal suicide methods, such as hanging, increases suicide rates.

Those responsible for risk assessment and suicide prevention in various environments need to recognise the impulsivity of many suicide attempts and endeavour to ensure there are no ligature points that can potentially be used.

High risk ligature points can be at any height in a room where vulnerable people might spend time without supervision. The only exception would be ligature points that are very high and totally inaccessible. While ligature points below 70cm have traditionally been considered low risk this is not the case as death can occur within minutes. Its also important to not only consider rooms in which vulnerable people may be left unsupervised but also other areas where their activity might be concealed from view.

Some potential ligature points to look out for include:

  • Light switch pull cords
  • Power cords on medical equipment
  • Call bell cords
  • Projections from ceilings or walls
  • Vanity mirrors
  • Security and safety mirrors.
  • Handrails
  • Doors
  • Doorknobs
  • Door hinges and hardware
  • Showerheads and curtains
  • Exposed plumbing or piping
  • Paper towels and soap dispensers on walls
  • Electrical switches
  • Lighting fixtures

When conducting a risk assessment, all of these elements need to be assessed as potential ligature points.

Anti Ligature Hardware

There is minimal guidance or legislation detailing the requirements for anti-ligature fixtures and fittings. However the Door and Hardware Federation has produced a useful specification document entitled: Enhanced Requirements and Test Methods for Anti-Ligature Hardware

Essentially, anti ligature products and hardware should make it impossible for people to use that item to securely attach a ligature in order to inflict harm on themselves or others. Anti ligature products include:

  • Anti ligature door handles
  • Anti ligature coat hooks
  • Anti ligature lighting
  • Anti ligature shower heads
  • Anti ligature door hardware
  • Anti ligature locks
  • Anti ligature soap dispensers

Anti Ligature Mirrors

Convex security and safety mirrors are commonly employed in many environments used by vulnerable people. These quarter dome, half dome and full dome mirrors are generally installed at ceiling height to provide more expansive visibility in various spaces, such as custody suites where considerately located mirrors enable the whole room to be securely observed from a safe vantage point. They are manufactured from either polycarbonate or stainless steel, making them unbreakable and avoiding the risk of broken mirror pieces being used as weapons or for self-harm.

anti ligature mirrors
Institutional Anti Ligature Mirrors


These mirrors are fixed in place using special anti-tamper screws that can’t be removed without a special driver tool. For additional security both the screws and the mirror frame edges can be sealed with an anti-pick sealant which is specifically designed to have higher density than standard sealants, making it resistant to fingernails.

Anti ligature mirrors from Insight Security are accredited by Secured by Design, the official police security initiative that provides a recognised standard for a wide range of security products. Also known as ‘institution mirrors’, they fulfil the stringent requirements and standards of the home office, police and prison services.

hemispheric mirrors
Hemispheric Mirrors


Where Anti Ligature Mirrors are Used

As noted, anti ligature mirrors are extensively used for safety and security applications in prisons, police cells, secure hospitals, mental health facilities, young offenders institutes, detention centres and many other environments.

The robust mirror design along with the secure mirror mounting also makes these mirrors vandal proof. So they are also increasingly used in public spaces, such as underpasses, where they provide visibility around corners without risk of being damaged or stolen. They are also commonly used on public transport systems where they provide additional security for travellers. Schools and care homes, where teachers and carers need to watch over many people simultaneously, are also finding these affordable mirrors very beneficial.

Key benefits provided by vandal proof anti ligature mirrors include:

  • They minimise the risk of being used for self-harm or suicide
  • They are robust and strong
  • They significantly expand visibility into hard-to-see spaces
  • They are useful in a wide range of environments
  • They are very cost effective.

Vandal proof anti-ligature mirrors provide a low cost, highly effective method to boost safety and security by improving visibility and assisting those who have responsibility for keeping people safe in difficult circumstances.

If you have any questions about anti-ligature mirrors, or if you have any special requirements, remember we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll provide you with free, expert advice.

This message was added on Thursday 2nd February 2023

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