Schizophrenia Drastically Increases Suicide Risk

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New research from the University of Toronto shows schizophrenia may significantly increase the risk of attempting suicide, especially in women, people with a history of substance abuse, and those who were abused as children.

Sad WomanAccording to the results, the lifetime prevalence of suicide attempts among individuals with schizophrenia was 39.2 percent, compared to just 2.8 percent among the general population.

“Even after taking into account most of the known risk factors for suicide attempts, those with schizophrenia had six times the odds of having attempted suicide in comparison to those without schizophrenia,” says Esme Fuller-Thomson, a professor at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study published in the journal Schizophrenia Research and Treatment.

For the study, the researchers analyzed a representative sample of 21,744 community-dwelling Canadians, of whom 101 had reported being diagnosed with schizophrenia. The data was collected from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health.

“When we focused only on the 101 individuals with schizophrenia, we found that women and those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse and/or major depressive disorder were much more likely to have attempted suicide,” says study coauthor and recent University of Toronto graduate Bailey Hollister.

The team says the most concerning findings of the study is the discovery that people with schizophrenia who reported experiencing physical abuse during their childhood were five times more likely to have attempted suicide. Early adversities explained 24 percent of the variability in suicide attempts.

“Clearly those with schizophrenia are an extremely vulnerable population. Knowledge of the added risk of suicide attempts associated with childhood abuse and substance abuse could help clinicians improve targeting and outreach to this population,” adds Fuller-Thomson.

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