Send to

Choose Destination
Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Apr;125(4):885-93. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000000718.

Suicide risk among perinatal women who report thoughts of self-harm on depression screens.

Author information

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Center for Biostatistical Research Informatics, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Evanston, and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.



To estimate the incidence and clinical significance of suicidal ideation revealed during perinatal depression screening and estimate the associated suicide risk.


Retrospective cohort study of women completing the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale at 24-28 weeks of gestation and 6 weeks postpartum through a suburban integrated health system with approximately 5,000 annual deliveries on two hospital campuses. Suicidal ideation on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and prediction of suicide risk were examined through multivariable modeling and qualitative analysis of clinical assessments.


Among 22,118 Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale questionnaires studied, suicidal ideation was reported on 842 (3.8%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.5-4.1%) and was positively associated with younger maternal age (antepartum mean age 30.9 compared with 31.9 years, P=.001), unpartnered relationship status (antepartum 29.5% compared with 16.5%, P<.001 and postpartum 25.0% compared with 17.5%, P<.01), non-Caucasian race (antepartum 62.1% compared with 43.8%, P<.001 and postpartum 62.4% compared with 45.2%, P<.001), non-English language (antepartum 11.0% compared with 6.6%, P<.001 and postpartum 12.4% compared with 7.7%, P<.01), public insurance (antepartum 19.9% compared with 12.5%, P<.001 and postpartum 18.2% compared with 14.2%, P<.001), and preexisting psychiatric diagnosis (antepartum 8.4% compared with 4.2%, P<.001 and postpartum 12.0% compared with 5.8%, P<.001). Multivariable antepartum and postpartum models retained relationship status, language, relationship status by language interaction, and race; the postpartum model also found planned cesarean delivery negatively associated with suicidal ideation risk (odds ratio [OR] 0.56, 95% CI 0.36-0.87) and severe vaginal laceration positively associated with suicidal ideation risk (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.00-4.40). A qualitative study of 574 women reporting suicidal ideation indicated that 330 (57.5%, 95% CI 53.5-61.5%) experienced some degree of suicidal thought. Six patients (1.1%, 95% CI 0.2-1.9%) demonstrated active suicidal ideation with plan, intent, and access to means. Within this highest risk group, three patients reported a suicide attempt within the perinatal period.


Among perinatal women screened for depression, 3.8% reported suicidal ideation, but only 1.1% of this subgroup was at high risk for suicide. These findings support the need for systematic evaluation of those who report suicidal ideation to identify the small subset requiring urgent evaluation and care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wolters Kluwer
Loading ...
Support Center