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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1997 Mar;95(3):259-63.

Down-rating lifetime suicide risk in major depression.

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  • 1Community Psychiatry Service, Toowong Private Hospital, Brisbane, Australia.


For 25 years the medical profession has accepted that of every 100 individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD), 15 subjects will ultimately commit suicide. The present paper demonstrates that the lifetime suicide risk in this condition cannot be so high. Conservative age-specific calculations give a lifetime suicide risk in MDD of 3.5%. Selection of hospital-based, high suicide risk, study populations in the index research, when most sufferers are out-patients, is the primary contributor to the overestimation of suicide risk. Evolving classification systems are a further factor. In terms of suicide risk, MDD is not a homogenous diagnostic category. As has been reliably replicated, the small subgroup of patients who have experienced hospital admission do experience a much greater lifetime suicide risk.

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