Suicidal behavior in patients with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders

Elizabeth D. Radomsky, Gretchen L. Haas, J. John Mann, John A. Sweeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

263 Scopus citations


Objective: Patients with schizophrenia are known to be at high risk for suicide attempts and dying by suicide. However, little research has been conducted to determine whether the risk for suicidal behavior is elevated among patients with psychosis in general. Method: This study evaluated 1- month and lifetime rates of suicidal behavior among 1,048 consecutively admitted psychiatric inpatients (ages 18 to 55 years) with DSM-III-R psychotic disorders. Demographic, clinical, and diagnostic correlates of suicidal behavior were examined. Results: A high rate of suicidal behavior was found in the group: 30.2% reported a lifetime history of suicide attempts, and 7.2% reported a suicide attempt in the month before admission. The highest 1-month and lifetime rates were found in patients with schizoaffective disorder and major depression with psychotic features. Ratings of the medical dangerousness of the most recent suicide attempt on the basis of the extent of physical injury were higher in patients with schizophrenia spectrum psychoses. Agreement was high between emergency room assessments and semistructured interview assessments of suicidal behavior. Conclusions: Rates of suicidal behavior were high across a broad spectrum of patients with psychotic disorders; patients with a history of a current or past major depressive episode (as a part of major depressive disorder or schizoaffective disorder) were at a greater risk for suicide attempts, but patients with schizophrenia, on average, made more medically dangerous attempts. Risk factors for suicidal behavior in patients with psychosis appear to vary compared to those for the general population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1590-1595
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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