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Prognosis after attempted suicide impaired by psychiatric disorder

[PRESS RELEASE, 19 November 2008] People who have attempted suicide at some point in their lives are more likely to actually succeed in committing suicide at a later date. The risk is particularly high for people with serious psychiatric disorder, according to a new study from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet.

One in ten suicide attempters actually commit suicide later on in life. However, knowledge of the factors affecting the risk of suicide is limited, which makes it hard to identify, and help, the people who are at the greatest risk.

A group of researchers at Karolinska Institutet now present a longitudinal follow-up of almost 40,000 people who have been admitted to hospital after an attempted suicide. Their results show that the risk of later actually committing suicide differs significantly for each of the diagnostic groups. The risk was especially high for people diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or clinical depression on their first attempt.

The study, which followed up people over a period of 21 years or more, also shows that many of the completed suicides were committed in the first years after the first suicide attempt. The short-term prognosis was particularly poor for people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or clinical depression.

"These results can be of use in acute risk assessments following attempted suicide," says Professor Bo Runeson, who led the study. "Psychiatric disorder is a key factor in the planning of patient aftercare and evaluation. The medical treatment given and the psychological support provided must both take account of the diagnosis and be personalised."


Contact: Katarina Sternudd
Karolinska Institutet

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