What is the role of mental illness in the development of suicidal behaviors?

Updated: Jul 26, 2021
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Although mental illness is generally linked to premature deaths, certain mental illnesses carry with them remarkably high lifetime instances of suicide. In fact, 95% of people who commit suicide have a mental illness. In a general sense, mental illness all too often is an isolating experience, with such isolation correlating with suicide.

Hospitalization for a psychiatric disorder is quite prevalent in the suicidal population, [12] including for people with any depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, substance abuse problems, delirium, and dementia, as well as certain genetic factors. A study assessing the risk for suicide during the 90 days after hospital discharge found that adults with complex psychopathologic disorders with prominent depressive features appear to have a particularly high short-term risk for suicide. The study included approximately 1.8 million people, including a cohort of inpatients aged 18 to 64 years in the Medicaid program who were discharged with a first-listed diagnosis of a mental disorder and a 10% random sample of inpatients with diagnoses of nonmental disorders. [13]

Each psychiatric disorder has its own distinctive mental status footprint. A mental status review is designed to help evaluate a person’s suicide potential.

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