Risk Factors Identified for Pregnancy-Associated Suicide

Mental health, substance use, intimate partner problems influence pregnancy-related suicide

FRIDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- The presence of an existing mental health diagnosis, current depressed mood, substance use, and intimate partner problems are risk factors which influence pregnancy-associated suicide, according to a study published online Nov. 3 in General Hospital Psychiatry.

Katherine J. Gold, M.D., M.S.W., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues investigated psychosocial risk factors for pregnancy-associated suicide. Data from 2,083 females of reproductive age (classified as pregnant, postpartum, and nonpregnant or postpartum), who committed suicide, were assessed from 17 states reporting to the United States National Violent Death Reporting System from 2003 to 2007. Groups were compared for demographic factors, mental health status, substance use, precipitating circumstances, intimate partner problems, and suicide methods.

The investigators found that there was a high prevalence of existing mental health diagnoses and current depressed mood among the suicide victims, with depressed mood significantly elevated among postpartum women. Among the groups, substance use and the presence of other precipitating factors were high and similar. More intimate partner problems were found among pregnant and postpartum victims. Compared with poisoning or firearms, asphyxia was the more likely cause of death among postpartum women.

"These findings describe important mental health, substance use, and intimate partner problems seen with pregnancy-associated suicide," the authors write.

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