Researchers found a strong link between epilepsy and suicide risk. People with epilepsy have a 22% increased suicide risk, compared to the general population.
The first of its kind study was conducted by researchers at the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
The researchers used data from the U.S. National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) 2003 through 2011 to analyze the suicide risk, suicide methods and risk factors.
Every year 17 out of 10,000 people with epilepsy commit suicide. That’s 22% higher than in the general population.
Moreover, people with epilepsy use different methods to commit suicide compared to people without epilepsy. They were more likely to commit suicide in their home and twice as likely to poison themselves.
“Preventive efforts should include reducing the availability or exposure to poisons, especially at home, and supporting other evidence–based programs to reduce mental illness comorbidity associated with suicide.” Said Dr. Dale Helsdorffer, co-author of the study.
The study showed that there is an age peak at 40-49 years. “Of particular significance is what we learned about those 40 to 49 years old,” said Dr. Hesdorffer. “Efforts for suicide prevention should target people with epilepsy in this age category specifically.
Epilepsy, Convulsions, seizures or fits are some of the most common neurologic disorders, with an annual incidence of 35 to 52 cases per 100,000 persons. It is a central nervous system disorder that affects the nerve cell activity in the brain characterized by the presence of recurrent, unprovoked seizures.