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Schizophrenia & Suicide Rates

Learn about the suicide rate among people with schizophrenia from psychiatrist Jeanie Tse in this Howcast video.


Hi. I'm Jeanie Tse, and I'm here to talk with you about schizophrenia and suicide risk. People with schizophrenia are eight times more likely to attempt or commit suicide. In fact, five percent of people with schizophrenia die by suicide, and 20 to 40 percent will attempt at some point. So, it's a serious issue, and a lot of effort needs to be put in, and has been put, into the prevention of suicide among people with schizophrenia.

The people who tend to make attempts and complete suicide, they tend to be young, males, single, and white, and they tend to be folks who have a higher IQ, higher pre-morbid functioning, which means that perhaps they were going to school, or had a good job, had a good family, and had a lot of good things going for them before they became ill. That's thought to be because when you realize that you have a very serious illness that it's going to affect you for the rest of your life, really. That risk is going to be with you.

When people lose a lot of the things that they had, their hopes and dreams that they had before, then that increases the risk of suicide, that sort of hopelessness and despair. Definitely, things that contribute also are impulsivity, or a tendency to act before thinking it through all the way, would make you more likely to attempt or complete suicide. And substance use, which makes it easier to do something that you might be anxious about or to be successful in, for instance, overdosing. Those are risk factors for suicide attempts and completion.

What we need to do as a community is really support people with schizophrenia, particularly young people with their first or second episodes of psychosis, to give them hope that there is true recovery possible from schizophrenia and that they can still pursue their hopes and dreams, but that they need to have support and treatment to work towards that.

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