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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Jul 15;26(2):183-93.

Systematic review: the prevalence of suicidal behaviour in patients with chronic abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, CA, USA.



Chronic abdominal pain syndromes may increase the risk of suicidal behaviour - a feature well described in non-visceral pain syndromes.


To perform a systematic review to summarize and interpret published data linking chronic abdominal pain syndromes and suicidal behaviour.


We performed a structured search to identify studies pertaining to the following questions: (i) What is the prevalence of suicidal behaviour in patients with chronic abdominal pain syndromes, including bowel syndrome (IBS)? (ii) Is the prevalence of suicidal behaviour in chronic abdominal pain syndromes higher than in matched controls? And (iii) is suicidal behaviour in abdominal pain syndromes simply due to psychiatric co-morbidities?


Thirty-two relevant titles were identified, of which six manuscripts, describing eight studies, met inclusion criteria. Patients with non-IBS syndromes were 3-11 times more likely to demonstrate suicidal behaviour vs. controls, while patients with IBS were two to four times more likely to have suicidal behaviour. Chronic abdominal pain was an independent predictor of suicidal behaviour after adjusting for co-morbid psychiatric conditions.


Chronic abdominal pain syndromes increase the risk for suicidal behaviours. This relationship may exist independently of co-morbid depression, although additional research is needed to better understand this link. These data indicate that clinicians should survey for suicidal behaviour in chronic abdominal pain patients.

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