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04-07-2012 | Mental health | Article

Suicide attempts common in young bipolar patients


Free abstract

MedWire News: Suicidal behavior is common among young people with bipolar disorder, with around one in five attempting to take their own lives, researchers report.

They also found that increased depression severity and a family history of depression are the most significant predictors for suicide attempts in young people with the mood disorder.

"These findings highlight the importance of suicide prevention strategies in youth with bipolar disorder, including frequent and thorough suicide risk assessment and safety planning," comment Tina Goldstein (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pennsylvania, USA) and team

The researchers studied 413 young people, aged an average of 12.6 years at baseline, with bipolar I disorder (n=244), bipolar II disorder (n=28), or bipolar disorder not otherwise specified (n=141) who were followed up for an average of 5 years.

Over the follow-up period, 76 (18%) participants made at least one suicide attempt and 31 (8%) made several attempts.

Participants who attempted suicide were significantly more likely to be female than male, at 57.9% versus 42.1%, but bipolar subtype did not appear to influence the risk for suicide attempts.

The most significant predictors of suicide attempts were a family history of depression (hazard ratio=3.8) and greater depression severity at baseline, after accounting for gender.

Other factors associated with an increased risk for suicide attempts over the study period included a greater number of weeks spent with depression, the presence of a substance use disorder, mixed mood symptoms, and a greater number of weeks spent receiving outpatient psychosocial services.

Goldstein and team conclude in the Archives of General Psychiatry: "These prospective data indicate pediatric bipolar disorder is associated with high rates of suicide attempts."

They add that the findings "may inform the development of both preventive and therapeutic interventions for this high-risk group."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Mark Cowen

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