A common concern of psychiatric patients' relatives is that patients might be a danger to themselves or others. The aim of this study was to investigate family burden and relatives' participation in care in relation to physical violence towards others and suicide attempts by psychiatric inpatients before admission. Information concerning violence and suicide attempts by the patients prior to admission was collected from the medical records of 155 acutely voluntarily and involuntarily admitted psychiatric inpatients. Relatives were interviewed a month after admission, using a semi-structured questionnaire. Violence towards other persons and suicide attempts were recorded in 16% and 17% of the cases, respectively. There were no differences between relatives of patients who had been violent and other relatives regarding burden and participation in care. Relatives of patients with suicide attempts more often stated they had been prevented from having own company, worried about suicide attempts by the patient, had mental health problems of their own, and had own need for care and support. It was concluded that violence of acutely admitted psychiatric patients, targeted at other people, was not associated with burden of family, but the results corroborate the need for psychiatric services to involve and support relatives of psychiatric patients with suicidal behaviour.