Journal Article

Suicide Risk in Schizophrenia: An Analysis of 17 Consecutive Suicides

Pirjo Irmeli Saarinen, Johannes Lehtonen and Jouko Lönnqvist

in Schizophrenia Bulletin

Published on behalf of Maryland Psychiatric Research Center

Volume 25, issue 3, pages 533-542
Published in print January 1999 | ISSN: 0586-7614
Published online January 1999 | e-ISSN: 1745-1701 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.schbul.a033399
Suicide Risk in Schizophrenia: An Analysis of 17 Consecutive Suicides

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The aim of this study was to investigate interactional factors related to the recognition of suicide risk in patients with schizophrenia. The study focused on 17 schizophrenia patients who had committed suicide during the National Suicide Prevention Project in Finland between April 1, 1987, and March 31, 1988, in the province of Kuopio. Consensus case reports were assembled by using the psychological autopsy method. Study methods included structured and in-depth interviews of next of kin and interviews of health care or social services workers who had treated the suicide victims. Male and female patients with schizophrenia committed suicide in equal proportions. Most had suffered from schizophrenia for more than 15 years; all but one had been receiving psychiatric treatment at the time of suicide. Retrospective assessment indicated that 59 percent of the patients were clinically depressed at the time of suicide. In 76 percent of the cases, the mental health professionals involved in treatment had not believed that there was a risk of suicide during their last contact with the patient. In 29 percent of the cases, the patient's paranoid ideas concerning treatment personnel had increased. Patients' withdrawal from human relationships because of depression was related to loss of the treatment professionals' concern for the patients. The findings in this descriptive study suggest that withdrawal by a patient with schizophrenia and an increase in the patient's paranoid behavior should be regarded as signals of risk of suicide.

Keywords: Schizophrenia; suicide risk; psychiatric care

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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