Suicide Screening Should Not Be Limited to Those With Psychiatric History

19.6 percent of first attempted suicides occur without an antecedent psychiatric disorder

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 22, 2024 (HealthDay News) — Nearly one in five who attempt suicide do so without meeting criteria for an antecedent psychiatric disorder, according to a study published online Feb. 21 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues used data from 1,948 U.S. adults with lifetime suicide attempts from a nationally representative population-based survey to determine what percentage of people who attempt suicide meet criteria for a psychiatric disorder.

The researchers found that 6.2 percent had no apparent lifetime psychiatric diagnoses when surveyed, while 13.4 percent made their first suicide attempt prior to psychiatric disorder onset. There were no significant age or sex differences noted in the percentage of those with lifetime suicide attempts absent psychiatric disorders. However, women were more likely than men to attempt suicide in the year of psychiatric disorder onset (14.9 versus 8.6 percent). Attempts were less frequent among those ≥50 to 65 years (3.9 percent versus 6.1 percent for those aged 35 to 50 years and 6.2 percent for those aged 20 to <35 years).

“This finding challenges clinical notions of who is at risk for suicidal behavior and raises questions about the safety of limiting suicide risk screening to psychiatric populations,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to MindMed, Sage Therapeutics, and Alkermes.

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