HealthDay News — The risk for suicide among patients with schizophrenia aged 18 to 34 years of age is 10 times higher than that for the general U.S. population, according to a study published online May 26 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., from Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues used data from five national retrospective longitudinal cohorts of patients with schizophrenia in the Medicare program (Jan. 1, 2007, to Dec. 31, 2016) to characterize suicide mortality rates and correlates among adults with schizophrenia across the life span. The analysis included 668,836 Medicare patients with schizophrenia during 2,997,308 years of follow-up and 2,218 suicide deaths.

The researchers found that the total suicide rate per 100,000 person-years was 74.00, which is 4.5 times higher than that for the general U.S. population (rate of 88.96 for men and 56.33 for women, with corresponding standardized mortality ratios [SMR] of 3.4 and 8.2 times higher, respectively, than rates for the general U.S. population). Significantly higher suicide rates were seen for men (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.44), as well as for those with depressive disorders (aHR, 1.32), anxiety disorders (aHR, 1.15), drug use disorders (aHR, 1.55), sleep disorders (aHR, 1.22), suicidal ideation (aHR, 1.41), and history of suicide attempts or self-injury (aHR, 2.48). Compared with White patients, the adjusted risks for suicide were lower for Hispanic patients (aHR, 0.66) and Black patients (aHR, 0.29). For patients aged 18 to 34 years, the suicide rate was 141.95 (SMR, 10.19) but declined to 24.01 (SMR, 1.53) for patients ages 65 years and older.

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“These findings suggest that suicide prevention efforts for individuals with schizophrenia should include a focus on younger adults with suicidal symptoms and substance use disorders,” conclude the authors.

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