Schizophrenia—A High‐Risk Factor for Suicide: Clues to Risk Reduction

Constance B. Caldwell, Irving I. Gottesman

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177 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT: Suicide is the chief cause of premature death among schizophrenic persons. The lifetime incidence of suicide for patients with schizophrenia is 10% to 13% compared to a general population estimate of about 1%, and is quite close to that observed among those with major affective disorder. The magnitude of increased risk for suicide among schizophrenics peaks before middle age and declines thereafter, although schizophrenic persons tend to be at increased risk throughout the life span. Among psychiatric patients, schizophrenics are overrepresented among suicides, and often schizophrenics constitute the majority of inpatient suicides. It is important in evaluating suicide risk among schizophrenic persons to assess depression and suicidal ideation especially during index admission and during acute phases of the illness. It is noteworthy that schizophrenic persons often commit suicide as the overall level of psychopathology decreases during a nonpsychotic phase. Research has yielded salient risk factors for suicide in schizophrenic persons and “types” of especially vulnerable patients, even though statistical prediction of individual suicides has not proven effective. 1992 The American Association for Suicidology

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-493
Number of pages15
JournalSuicide and Life‐Threatening Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

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