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23-12-2009 | Mental health | Article

Risk of suicide persists in first-episode psychosis patients


Free abstract

MedWire News: First-episode psychosis (FEP) patients have a high risk for suicide attempt that remains prevalent for at least 7 years and is predicted by previous self-harm, Australian study findings indicate.

Previous studies have demonstrated that FEP patients have an increased risk for suicide attempt, but these have largely been short-term studies and none have reported on the predictors of suicide attempts.

Jo Robinson, from the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Center in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues therefore conducted a naturalistic, prospective follow-up study of 413 FEP patients, assessing them at baseline, initial symptom remission or stabilization, and long-term follow-up, which was, on average, 7.4 years.

In all, 282 participants had complete follow-up data available. The findings reveal that 21.6% of the participants made a suicide attempt during follow-up, of which 19.7% were successful.

Logistic regression analysis indicated that the baseline factors history of self-harm, suicidal tendencies, being depressed for more than 50% of the initial psychotic episode, and hopelessness increased the risk for any suicide attempt, at odds ratios of 4.27, 2.30, 2.49, and 2.03, respectively.

In addition, the team reports in the journal Schizophrenia Research that the risk for multiple suicide attempts was predicted by a history of problem alcohol use, at an odds ratio of 4.43.

The researchers write: "The relative lack of specificity of the risk factors for suicide attempt generally... indicate that at a service level attention needs to be paid to all patients rather than only focusing preventative efforts upon the identification of risk.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2009

By Liam Davenport

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