HealthDay News — Stroke patients are at significantly increased risk of suicide, especially during the first two years after the stroke, according to a new study published online in Neurology.
Researchers analyzed data from 220,336 people in Sweden who suffered a stroke between 2001 and 2012. They found that stroke patients were up to twice as likely to commit suicide as people in the general population, and the risk of attempted suicide was highest in the first two years after a stroke.
Among stroke patients younger than 55, the risk of suicide was five times higher than in the general population. And stroke patients with lower income or education levels were 37% more likely to attempt suicide than those with a university education.
The Umeå University researchers also found that stroke patients who lived alone were 72% more likely to attempt suicide than those who lived with others.
The risk of suicide among stroke patients born outside of Europe was half that of those born in Europe. This may be due to cultural and religious factors, according to the study. Other risk factors linked to increased suicide risk among stroke patients were being male, having severe stroke-related disabilities, and depression.
“The study shows the need of both psychological and social support, as well as concrete measures to prevent suicide attempts, in people who have had a stroke and are at high risk of attempted suicide,” senior author Marie Eriksson, PhD, a senior lecturer in the department of public health and clinical medicine at Umeå, said in a university news release.
Eriksson M, et al. Poststroke suicide events and completed suicides. Neurology. 2015; doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001514.
Paolucci S and Ngeh J. Suicide in stroke survivors. Editorial. Neurology. 2015; 84: 1-2.