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Int J Psychiatry Med. 1992;22(3):231-7.

Ictal and psychiatric aspects of suicide in epileptic patients.

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  • 1University of Minnesota, St. Paul.



To evaluate the ictal and psychiatric aspects underlying the high risk of suicide among epileptic patients.


We surveyed the records of 1611 epileptic patients seen in a neurology clinic during an eight-year period, found four who died by suicide, and characterized their ictal and psychiatric features.


All four epileptic patients had partial complex seizures and temporal lobe foci. Two had an associated paranoid schizophrenia with suicidal ideation, and good or improving seizure control at the time of their deaths. Another patient killed himself during a brief psychotic episode associated with increasing epileptiform discharges. The fourth patient had ictal depression and committed suicide during a flurry of partial complex seizures.


These findings suggest that the high suicide rate among epileptic patients has a greater association with psychotic behaviors and psychic auras than with major depression or the psychosocial burden of being epileptic. We further review other reported risk factors for suicide in epilepsy.

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