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Epilepsy Behav. 2003 Oct;4 Suppl 3:S31-8.

Rates and risk factors for suicide, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts in chronic epilepsy.

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Department of Neurology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.


Studies of causes of death among people with epilepsy suggest that the lifetime prevalence rate of suicide is elevated. Although not all of the studies have reported an increased risk for suicide, the collective data yield an average rate of approximately 12% among people with epilepsy, compared with 1.1-1.2% in the general population. The increased risk for suicide appears to affect children and adolescents as well as adults. Rates of suicide attempts have also been reported to be elevated among people with epilepsy. A suicide attempt is a significant risk factor for completed suicide. Certain psychiatric disorders, including primary mood disorders, also increase the risk for suicide. Among people with epilepsy, psychiatric comorbidity is common, and rates of mood disorders, particularly major depression, have consistently been reported to be elevated. Other potential risk factors are family issues, physical health, personality, life stress, previous suicidal behavior, and access to firearms. Assessing severity of risk helps to determine the appropriate level of intervention. The suicidality module of the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview is a practical tool to help quantify current suicide risk.

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