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Am J Psychiatry. 1997 Sep;154(9):1235-42.

Suicide and schizophrenia: a nationwide psychological autopsy study on age- and sex-specific clinical characteristics of 92 suicide victims with schizophrenia.

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  • 1Department of Mental Health and Alcohol Research, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.



The authors examined the clinical characteristics of suicide victims with schizophrenia in the general population of Finland.


As part of the nationwide National Suicide Prevention Project in Finland, all suicides over a 12-month period of persons with DSM-III-R schizophrenia were investigated by using the psychological autopsy method. Clinical characteristics and their variation with age, sex, and illness duration were examined.


Among all suicide victims, 7% (N = 92) were identified as having suffered schizophrenia. Suicides occurred throughout the course of schizophrenia. Both active illness (78%) and depressive symptoms (64%) were highly prevalent immediately before suicide, and a history of suicide attempts (71%) was also common. Women were more likely than men to have committed suicide during an acute exacerbation of the illness. Marked variation in depressive symptoms, alcoholism, and suicide methods was found among sexes and age groups. Alcoholism was most common among middle-aged men (45%), whereas middle-aged women had a high rate of depressive symptoms (88%). Younger male subjects most often used violent suicide methods.


Suicide may occur at any point during the course of schizophrenia. The results indicate clinically important variation in depression, alcoholism, and suicide methods among suicide victims with schizophrenia. This suggestion of age- and sex-specific risk factors for suicide in schizophrenia needs further investigation.

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