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Depress Anxiety. 2010 Sep;27(9):791-8. doi: 10.1002/da.20674.

The relationship between anxiety disorders and suicide attempts: findings from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.



Previous work has suggested that anxiety disorders are associated with suicide attempts. However, many studies have been limited by lack of accounting for factors that could influence this relationship, notably personality disorders. This study aims to examine the relationship between anxiety disorders and suicide attempts, accounting for important comorbidities, in a large nationally representative sample.


Data came from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions Wave 2. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 34,653 adults between 2004 and 2005 in the United States. The relationship between suicide attempts and anxiety disorders (panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, specific phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)) was explored using multivariate regression models controlling for sociodemographics, Axis I and Axis II disorders.


Among individuals reporting a lifetime history of suicide attempt, over 70% had an anxiety disorder. Even after adjusting for sociodemographic factors, Axis I and Axis II disorders, the presence of an anxiety disorder was significantly associated with having made a suicide attempt (AOR=1.70, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.40-2.08). Panic disorder (AOR=1.31, 95% CI: 1.06-1.61) and PTSD (AOR=1.81, 95% CI: 1.45-2.26) were independently associated with suicide attempts in multivariate models. Comorbidity of personality disorders with panic disorder (AOR=5.76, 95% CI: 4.58-7.25) and with PTSD (AOR=6.90, 95% CI: 5.41-8.79) demonstrated much stronger associations with suicide attempts over either disorder alone.


Anxiety disorders, especially panic disorder and PTSD, are independently associated with suicide attempts. Clinicians need to assess suicidal behavior among patients presenting with anxiety problems.

(c) 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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