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"Even after taking into account most of the known risk factors for suicide attempts, those with schizophrenia had six times the odds of having attempted suicide in comparison to those without schizophrenia," says Esme Fuller-Thomson. (Credit: Khuroshvili Ilya/Flickr)

child abuse

2 in 5 people with schizophrenia attempt suicide

A new study has uncovered a strong link between schizophrenia and the likelihood of attempting suicide. The risk is particularly high for women, people with substance abuse issues, and those who were abused when they were children.

The lifetime prevalence of suicide attempts among individuals with schizophrenia was 39.2 percent compared to 2.8 percent of those without the disorder.

“Even after taking into account most of the known risk factors for suicide attempts, those with schizophrenia had six times the odds of having attempted suicide in comparison to those without schizophrenia,” says Esme Fuller-Thomson, a professor at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study published in the journal Schizophrenia Research and Treatment.

[Brain scans suggest schizophrenia is not one disease]

The study examined a representative sample of 21,744 community-dwelling Canadians, of whom 101 reported they had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Data were drawn from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health.

“When we focused only on the 101 individuals with schizophrenia, we found that women and those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse and/or major depressive disorder were much more likely to have attempted suicide,” says study coauthor Bailey Hollister, a recent University of Toronto graduate.

Of particular concern, individuals with schizophrenia who reported that they had been physically abused during their childhood were five times more likely to have attempted suicide and early adversities explained 24 percent of the variability in suicide attempts, say the authors.

“Clearly those with schizophrenia are an extremely vulnerable population. Knowledge of the added risk of suicide attempts associated with childhood abuse and substance abuse could help clinicians improve targeting and outreach to this population,” adds Fuller-Thomson.

Source: University of Toronto

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