June 29, 2017
1 min read

Physical health conditions may increase suicide risk

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Numerous physical health conditions were associated with increased risk for suicide after adjustment for potential confounders, particularly traumatic brain injury, HIV/AIDS and sleep disorders.

“These data represent among the first findings from areas across the U.S. documenting an increase in suicide risk for people with a variety of major physical health conditions,” Brian K. Ahmedani, PhD, LMSW, of Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, said in a press release. “As our nation’s health care systems work diligently to provide the best care for their patients, these data help support the need for suicide prevention among those with a wide variety of physical health conditions.”

To determine suicide risk among a range of physical health conditions, researchers analyzed electronic health record and insurance claims data for 2,674 individuals who died by suicide between 2000 and 2013 and 267,400 controls.

When adjusting for age and sex, 17 physical conditions were associated with significantly increased risk for suicide, including asthma, back pain, brain injury, cancer, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, hypertension, migraine, psychogenic pain, renal disorder, sleep disorders and stroke (P < .001).

When adjusting for age, sex, mental health and substance use diagnoses, nine conditions were associated with significantly increased risk for suicide, including back pain, brain injury, cancer, congestive heart failure, COPD, epilepsy, HIV/AIDs, migraine, and sleep disorders.

Traumatic brain injury (adjusted OR = 8.8; P < .001), sleep disorders and HIV/AIDS were associated with a more than twofold increased risk for suicide.

Thirty-eight percent of participants who died by suicide had multimorbidity, which was associated with an approximate twofold increased risk for suicide.

“Although suicide risk appears to be pervasive across most physical health conditions, prevention efforts appear to be particularly important for patients with a traumatic brain injury, whose odds of suicide are increased nearly ninefold, even after adjusting for potential confounders,” Ahmedani said in the release. “Several conditions, such as back pain, sleep disorders, and traumatic brain injury were all associated with suicide risk and are commonly diagnosed, making patients with these conditions primary targets for suicide prevention. Given that nearly every physical health condition was associated with suicide, widespread suicide prevention efforts in all health care settings seem warranted.” – by Amanda Oldt

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.