A recently released study from Denmark found that patients who have any major psychiatric disorder are at significantly higher risk for suicide after their first hospitalization. The study looked at more than 175,000 people who were followed for up to 36 years. Findings suggest that among men, those diagnosed with bipolar or unipolar affective disorder have the highest absolute risk for suicide. Schizophrenia represented the highest risk for women, followed closely by bipolar disorder. Another significant risk factor for both genders was co-morbidity; the co-occurrence of deliberate self-harm doubled the risk.
The research participants were located through the Danish Civil Registration System. They were born between 1955 and 1991 and their first contact with a mental health professional occurred after the age of 15. All of the participants were followed up until death, or until they emigrated, or until the end of 2006, for a maximum of 36 years. As well, five healthy control patients from the same registry with no diagnosis of psychiatric illness were matched for each participant.
Another interesting finding revealed that the steepest increase for suicide occurs during the initial years after the first contact with mental health services. This supports the need for intensive early intervention services.
To read the online article, go to www.medscape.com.