Stroke victims at twice the risk of suicide

November 12, 2001

Stroke victims are at twice the risk of suicide, finds a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The increased risk remains for around five years after the stroke.

The numbers of suicides between 1979 and 1993 were identified from Danish national statistics. These data were matched to over 114,000 stroke patients discharged from hospital over the same period. The figures were then plotted against the expected causes of death, categorised for age and gender for the whole population.

The expected death rate from suicide over the time period studied was 45 per 100,000 of the population. But among those who had sustained a stroke the figure was almost double at 83 per 100,000 of the population. Men were more likely to commit suicide than women, but this is also true of the general population.

But patients suffering a stroke before the age of 50 were three times as likely to commit suicide, perhaps because of the greater lifestyle impact a stroke has at a younger age, suggest the authors. And patients who had been in hospital for less than two weeks were also significantly more likely to commit suicide than those in hospital for more than three months after the stroke.

The increased risk of suicide among stroke victims remained for up to five years after the event.
[Suicide after a stroke: a population study 2001; 55: 863-6]

BMJ Specialty Journals

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