Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Suicide Risk Higher among Older Schizophrenia Patients

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Suicide Risk Higher among Older Schizophrenia Patients

Article excerpt

Men and women aged 50 years and older who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia are at greater risk of suicide, according to research in the journal.

This was especially true for middle-age and older women diagnosed with schizophrenia.

An estimated 1 in 1,000 adults aged 65 years and older are thought to have schizophrenia, previous studies show. Some 7%-17% of older adults who commit suicide have schizophrenia, compared with 8.5% of patients in the general population. Even without schizophrenia, studies have shown that older adults have the highest rate of suicide among all age groups.

The most recent findings come from a team of researchers led by Annette Erlangsen, Ph.D., and William W. Eaton, Ph.D., Dr. Erlangsen, Dr. Eaton, and their colleagues sought to determine whether an elevated risk of suicide associated with schizophrenia exists during the second half of life and which factors might help predict that risk.

Using individual-level register data, the researchers performed a nationwide cohort study of some 2,899,411 individuals (1,382,390 men, 1,517,021 women) aged 50 and older who lived in Denmark between 1990 and 2006 (Schizophr. Res. 2012;134;lll-7). They also gathered historical information on psychiatric hospitalizations since 1970 and obtained gender-specific suicide rates using the exact number of persondays under exposure. Indeed, there was an excess in mortality because of suicide among older adults with schizophrenia, which declined with decreasing age, when compared with the remainder of the population, reported Dr. Erlangsen of the Mental Health Centre Copenhagen and the Johns

Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, and Dr. Eaton of Johns Hopkins.

Since 1970, the researchers learned, 8,893 men (0.64%) and 9,165 women (0.60%) had been diagnosed with schizophrenia during a hospitalization. Also, 5,230 men and 2,911 women died by suicide, including 125 men (2.4%) and 123 women (4.2%) who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Suicide rates per 100,000 person-years were significantly higher among all patients diagnosed with schizophrenia vs. those without the disorder, although the rates did decrease with age. The rates were as follows: 217.7 vs. 31.3 among men aged 50-69 years; 107.2 vs. 51.6 among men aged 70 years and older; 218.1 vs. 15.9 among women aged 50-69 years; and 68.3 vs. 20.0 among women aged 70 years and older. …

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