Perinatal Suicide Tied to Intimate Partner Problems, Depression, Substance Use

12.4 percent of postpartum suicide decedents had postpartum depression

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 3, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Perinatal suicide is often associated with intimate partner problems (IPPs) and behavioral health issues, according to a study published online June 27 in JAMA Network Open.

Kara Zivin, Ph.D., from Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor, and colleagues used data from the National Violent Death Reporting System (2003 through 2021) to determine what circumstances are associated with perinatal suicide. The analysis included 1,150 perinatal decedents (aged 10 to 50 years) who were pregnant or postpartum at death and 17,655 female, nonperinatal decedents.

The researchers found that compared with matched nonperinatal decedents, perinatal decedents had higher odds of IPPs (odds ratio [OR], 1.45), a recent argument (OR, 1.33), depressed mood (OR, 1.39), substance abuse or other abuse (OR, 1.21), physical health problems (OR, 1.37), and death of a family member or friend (OR, 1.47) as contributing circumstances. A qualitative analysis emphasized the importance of mental health and identified that 12.4 percent of decedents had postpartum depression.

“This study provides insights into complex factors surrounding maternal suicide, and it highlights opportunities for further research to understand long-term consequences of perinatal mental health,” the authors write. “These findings also underscore the need for targeted evidence-based interventions and effective policies targeting mental health, substance use, and IPPs to prevent maternal suicide and enhance maternal health outcomes.”

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