The leading causes of death for patients with schizophrenia differ from those of the general population, according to results published online in Schizophrenia Research.

The authors of the study suggest that interventions for this population should be designed accordingly.

The researchers used the mortality multiple cause of death files maintained by the National Center for Health Statistics to identify people age 15 years and older with a mention of schizophrenia anywhere on the death certificate. Using these files, the researchers determined the number and proportion of deaths attributed to various underlying causes of death.

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In 2000 through 2003, schizophrenia was mentioned on the death certificates of 13,289 people. In 2004 through 2007, schizophrenia was mentioned on the death certificates of 13,655 people; in 2008 through 2011, it was mentioned on 14,135 death certificates; and in 2012 through 2015, it was mentioned on 15,033 death certificates.

For deaths with a mention of schizophrenia, heart disease was the first leading cause of death and cancer was the second leading cause of death. These first and second leading causes of death were the same for people who died without mention of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia was the third leading cause of death in all years except 2004 through 2007.

When broken down by age group, the leading causes of death mentioned on death certificates in 2012 through 2015 for people with schizophrenia were as follows:

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  • Age 15-24: Suicide
  • Age 25-44: Accidents
  • Age 45-64: Heart disease
  • Age 65-74: Heart disease
  • Age >75: Alzheimer disease and related dementia

When all deaths were broken down by age group, the leading causes in 2012 through 2015 were:

  • Age 15-24: Accidents
  • Age 25-44: Accidents
  • Age 45-64: Cancer
  • Age 65-74: Cancer
  • Age >75: Heart disease


Lin JJ, Liang FW, Li CY, Lu TH. Leading causes of death among decedents with mention of schizophrenia on the death certificates in the United States [published online January 30, 2018]. Schizophr Res. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2018.01.011.