Predictors of suicidal ideation in people with epilepsy living in Korea

Hye-Won Lim, Hyun-Seok Song, Yang-Ha Hwang, Ho-Won Lee, Chung-Kyu Suh, Sung-Pa Park, Soon-Hak Kwon
Journal of Clinical Neurology 2010, 6 (2): 81-8

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The risk of suicide or suicide attempts is reported higher in people with epilepsy (PWE) than in the general population. Although epileptic, psychiatric, and psychosocial factors are known risk factors for suicide or suicide attempt, no studies have evaluated the predictors of the severity of suicidal ideation-which is a warning sign for suicide attempts-in PWE. Therefore, we measured the severity of suicidal ideation and its risk factors.

METHODS: Consecutive PWE who were medicated with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) and attended epilepsy clinic were included in the study. The subjects completed self-reported questionnaires, which included the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), Symptom Checklist-90-Revised (SCL-90-R), and Scale for Suicide Ideation-Beck (SSI-Beck). We compared the patients' demographic and clinical variables, and BDI, BAI, and SCL-90-R scores with their SSI-Beck score, and used our findings to determine the predictors for suicidal ideation.

RESULTS: In total, 257 PWE were enrolled in the study. SSI-Beck scores correlated strongly with several seizure-related variables, duration of education, IQ, BDI and BAI scores, and nine domains of the SCL-90-R questionnaire. However, the strongest predictor for suicidal ideation was BDI score (beta=0.41, p<0.001), followed by several SCL-90-R domains, such as obsessive-compulsive (beta=-0.39, p<0.001), depression (beta=0.38, p<0.001), hostility (beta=0.22, p=0.002), paranoid ideation (beta=0.17, p=0.01), and IQ (beta=-0.10, p=0.017). These variables explained 59% of the variance in the SSI-Beck score. The seizure-related variables that influenced the BDI score were seizure frequency, duration of education, MRI abnormality, and number of AEDs. However, these variables explained only 18% of the variance in the BDI score.

CONCLUSIONS: Major risk factors for suicidal ideation in PWE were depressive and psychiatric symptoms rather than seizure-related variables. Therefore, clinicians should focus on screening for depression and other psychiatric problems and treat them appropriately in order to reduce suicidal behavior in PWE. Since seizure-related variables also exhibited a minor role in determining depressive symptoms, stronger seizure-related risk factors for depression should be sought, such as seizure severity or psychosocial factors, to minimize suicidal behavior.

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