July 06, 2005

Suicide Risk Factors in SZ

Read more... Schizophrenia Coping

A major review article in the British Journal of Psychiatry analyzed the results of 28 studies in order to determine the main risk factors for suicide in the schizophrenia population.

The main risk factors identified by the review article are:

--previous suicide attempts
--drug misuse
--agitation or restlessness
--a knowledge of deteriorating mental status
--poor compliance with treatment
--recent loss
--Family history of suicide or affective disorders

Interestingly, the positive psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia - hallucinations and delusions - were not identified as risk factors. Indeed, these symptoms were negatively correlated with suicide.

Patients living alone and/or not with their families were also found to be at increased risk; however, this may be at least partially a reflection of disease severity.

Although suicide risk rises for patients who do not have or stay on adequate treatment, it is also important to realize that the period of months after a person starts a treatment regimen is also a high-risk time for suicide. For some people, medication treatment brings an increased awareness of their brain disease, which can lead to depression and increased suicide risk.

Suicide risk can be reduced by treating affective (especially depressive or agitated) symptoms, either with antidepressants or cognitive behavioral therapy (both of which have shown positive results), by using some medications that have been shown to have anti-suicide effects (such as clozapine), and by maintaining a vigilant knowledge of people who are at particular risk.

More resources to help prevent suicide:

See http://www.schizophrenia.com/suicide.html for warning signs, crisis plans, and suicide prevention and survivor organizations

See http://www.schizophrenia.com/depssn.html for tips on how to manage depression. or see How to Help Someone Who's Depressed in our FAQ guide - http://www.schizophrenia.com/family/FAQgen.htm#depressed.

Clozapine may help reduce suicide risk - see a BBC news item from January 2003 for details (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/2653317.stm).

Original Source Article: Schizophrenia and Suicide: systematic review of risk factors. July 5, 2005. Available at http://www.rxpgnews.com.


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