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Mental Health and Suicide Risk

November 20, 2008

For the first time, researchers discovered a link between specific psychiatric disorders and increased risk of suicide.

New research shows men and women suffering from unipolar disorder (major depression), bipolar disorder (manic depression) or schizophrenia are at a very high risk of committing suicide within a year of their first attempt.

Researchers in Stockholm studied close to 40,000 individuals who were admitted to the hospital in Sweden following a suicide attempt. They found that schizophrenia and unipolar/bipolar disorder were the strongest predictors of suicide throughout the follow-up period. In patients suffering from unipolar/bipolar disorder, 64 percent of all suicides in men and 42 percent of suicides in women occurred within the first year of follow-up; the matching figures for schizophrenia were 56 percent in men and 54 percent in women.

People suffering from other psychiatric disorders had a lower but still significantly increased risk of suicide. Study authors are now calling for patients with previous suicidal behavior who suffer from schizophrenia or unipolar/bipolar disorder to receive more intensive after-care, especially in the first few years after a suicide attempt.

SOURCE: BMJ, 2008;337:a2205

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