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September 19, 2005

Environmental Stressors Increase Suicide Risk

Environmental stressors increase the risk of suicide and attempted suicide in those suffering from bipolar disorder. Researchers looked at 648 outpatients who had either bipolar I or II disorder. They took a survey that looked at their background, their illness' background, and their past suicide attempts. Some were also followed up on their mood ratings, depressive symptoms, manic symptoms, and their ability to function.

"In all, 34% of the cohort had attempted suicide. After excluding less serious suicide attempts (ie, those that did not require medical attention) and adjusting for known risk factors, Leverich et al identified five factors that were significantly and independently associated with a serious suicide attempt" (PsychiatryMatters.MD).

The factors that increased risk of suicide were: sexual abuse, lack of confidence before they developed bipolar disorder, more hospitalizations due to depression, depression accompanied by suicidal thoughts, and cluster B personality disorder. Cluster B personality disorders are also referred to as the dramatic-emotional personality disorders. They include antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder.

The researchers noted that this link between environmental adversity and suicide risk in those with bipolar disorder, can also be seen in those with unipolar depression. Bipolar disorder is already known for having a higher risk of suicide than the general population. Those with bipolar disorder dealing with environmental adversity may be especially prone to attempting suicide. Making sure to treat the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder is as important as treating the manic symptoms.

SOURCE: Environmental stressors predict suicide in bipolar disorder. PsychiatryMatters.MD.

This research article was published in J Clin Psychiatry 2003; 64: 506-515

To learn more about the relationship between suicide and bipolar disorder check out our Bipolar Disorder & Suicide page.

If you are considering suicide or are having suicidal thoughts you should call the National Hopeline in the United States: 1- 800-784-2433, or contact a local emergency room or the police.

Also, if you are having suicidal thoughts, please check out this page on suicide titled, If you are thinking about suicide, Read This First.


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