Schizophrenia and Recurrent Suicide Attempts

The risk of suicide in the general population is about 1%. There is a 30 to 40 times increased risk of death from suicide in individuals who have previously attempted suicide compared with the general population. Schizophrenia is among other serious mental disorders that are predictors of recurrent suicide attempts.

Although suicidal behavior is difficult to predict, research scientists have found several factors that can increase the risk of recurrent suicide in people with schizophrenia.

These risk factors include:

  • Symptoms of depression, including hopelessness and feelings of worthlessness
  • Hallucinations (imagined but untrue ideas, visions, or voices that the person believes are telling him/her to commit suicide)
  • Substance abuse
  • Recent loss or rejection
  • Being unmarried
  • Not having a job
  • Recent discharge from the hospital

Who’s at Risk

People suffering from schizophrenia have a particularly high risk for suicide with 20% to 40% attempting suicide at some point during their lifetime. Research suggests that the risk is even higher for people diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, an illness in which there are both severe mood swings (mania and/or depression), and some psychotic symptoms of severe schizophrenia.