Risk of Suicide Twice as High for People With Parkinson Disease

man with hand on head
man with hand on head
While comorbidities with mental disorders are common in those with Parkinson Disease (PD), it is unclear whether PD is associated with an increased risk of suicide.

People with Parkinson disease (PD) are twice as likely to commit suicide than people without the disease according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Researchers used a population-based cohort within a dataset provided by Taiwan’s Health and Welfare Data Science Center between 2002 and 2016. The data is part of Taiwan’s National Health Insurance system and 99% of the Taiwanese population participates. The study included 35,891 participants with PD and 143,557 controls.

In individuals with PD, the 11-year incidence of suicide was 66.6% per 100,000 compared to 32.3% in the control group. The rate of depression and other mental disorders partly explains the higher suicide risk.

Of all the individuals who died by suicide, those with PD were younger, more likely to have a mental disorder, and more often lived in urban areas.

Limitations for this study include the fact that data on lifestyle factors, ethnicity, and disease history was not available and medical claims may be inaccurate. The low rate of depression (about 1%) could be attributed to stigma associated with the disease.

“Integrating mental health care into primary care, geriatric health care, and [Parkinson disease] specialty care might be helpful,” the researchers concluded. “Furthermore, socioenvironmental interventions, such as enhancing family and community connectedness and home safety assessment to prevent suicide by jumping, are all potential intervention measures.”


Chen YY, Yu S, Hu YH, et al. Risk of suicide among patients with Parkinson disease. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online December 16, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.4001