Suicidal events and accidents in 216 first-episode bipolar I disorder patients: predictive factors

Hari Mandir Kaur Khalsa, Paola Salvatore, John Hennen, Christopher Baethge, Mauricio Tohen, Ross J Baldessarini
Journal of Affective Disorders 2008, 106 (1): 179-84

BACKGROUND: Risks of life-threatening behaviors are high among bipolar disorder (BPD) patients, but early rates and associated risk factors for suicides and accidents remain ill-defined.

METHODS: We assessed 216 DSM-IV BP-I patients prospectively for 4.2 years from first-lifetime hospitalization, using ordinal logistic-regression to estimate risks and associated demographic and clinical factors among risk-groups with: [1] no suicidal ideation, acts, or accidents, [2] suicidal ideation only, [3] suicides and attempts, [4] accidents, and [5] both suicidal acts and accidents.

RESULTS: Suicidal thoughts or acts were identified in 127/216 subjects/4.2 years (14%/year), including suicidal ideation in 88 (9.7%/year), and acts in 39 (4.3%/year: 38 attempts [17.6%/year], 1 suicide [0.11%/year]); 87% of acts occurred within a year of a first-episode. Life-threatening accidents occurred in 20 cases (2.2%/year) with a mean latency of 3.8 years, including 12 with suicidal ideation or attempts (60% co-occurrence of accidents and suicidality); alcohol was implicated in 25% of accidents. The 53 cases of violent behaviors (5.84%/year) included a fatal car-wreck and a suicide, for a mortality risk of 0.22%/year (2/216/4.2 years). Suicidality was associated with initial mixed-state, proportion of follow-up weeks in mixed-states or depression, and prior suicide attempts; accidents were associated selectively with initial mania or psychosis, later mania or hypomania, and alcohol abuse. Violent acts also were associated with use of more psychotropic medicines/person, and with use of antipsychotics or sedative-anxiolytics.

LIMITATIONS: Treatment was clinical and uncontrolled, illness relatively severe, and statistical power limited.

CONCLUSIONS: Early in BP-I disorder, risks of suicidal acts and accidents were high, inter-related, and associated with particular types of initial and later morbidity, suggesting some predictability and potential for preventive intervention.


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