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Psychiatr Serv. 2019 Mar 1;70(3):176-183. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2018 Dec 10.

Self-Reported Suicidal Ideation as a Predictor of Suicidal Behavior Among Outpatients With Diagnoses of Psychotic Disorders.

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Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Seattle (Simon, Shortreed); Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Portland, Oregon (Yarborough, Lynch); HealthPartners Institute, Minneapolis (Rossom); Department of Research and Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Pasadena (Lawrence); Center for Health Research, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, Honolulu (Waitzfelder); Center for Health Services Research, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit (Ahmedani).



Individuals with psychotic disorders are at high risk of suicidal behavior. The study examined whether response to item 9 of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), which asks about thoughts of death or self-harm, predicts suicidal behavior among outpatients with diagnoses of psychotic disorders.


Electronic health records (EHRs) from seven large integrated health systems were used to identify all outpatient visits by adults with a diagnosis of schizophrenia spectrum psychosis or unspecified psychosis from January 1, 2009, to June 30, 2015, during which a PHQ-9 was completed (N=32,982 visits by 5,947 patients). Suicide attempts over the 90 days following each visit were ascertained from EHRs and insurance claims. Suicide deaths were ascertained from state death certificate files.


Risk of suicide attempt within 90 days of an outpatient visit was .8% among patients reporting no thoughts of death or self-harm and 3.5% among those reporting such thoughts "nearly every day." Over 90 days of follow-up, 47% of suicide attempts occurred among those who reported any recent thoughts of death or self-harm at the sampled visit. Also, 59% of attempts occurred among those reporting thoughts of death or self-harm at the index visit or any visit in the prior year. The number of suicide deaths within 90 days (N=10) was too small to accurately assess the relationship between PHQ-9 item 9 response and subsequent suicide death.


Among outpatients with psychotic disorders, response to item 9 of the PHQ-9 accurately identified those at increased short-term risk of a suicide attempt.


Epidemiology; Psychoses; Schizoaffective disorders; Schizophrenia; Suicide and self-destructive behavior


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