HealthDay News — Overall, 1.71% of individuals with a first lifetime diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or psychotic disorder not otherwise specified (schizophrenia spectrum disorders [SSD]) die by suicide, according to a study published online in Schizophrenia Research.

Juveria Zaheer, MD, from the Center for Addiction and Medical Health in Toronto, and colleagues identified individuals aged 16 through 45 years who received a first lifetime diagnosis of SSD using records from linked administrative health databases from January 1, 1993, to December 31, 2010. Participants were followed for death by suicide until December 1, 2012.

A total of 75,989 individuals with a first SSD diagnosis were followed for 9.56 years. The researchers found that after an average of 4.32 years, 1.71% of the total sample died by suicide (72.1% male; 27.9% female). Suicide death predictors included male sex (hazard ratio, 2.00); age at diagnosis (26 to 35 or 36 to 45 relative to 16 to 25: hazard ratios, 1.27 and 1.34, respectively); and suicide attempt, drug use disorder, mood disorder diagnosis, or mental health hospitalization in the two years before SSD diagnosis (hazard ratios, 2.23, 1.21, 1.32, and 1.30, respectively).

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“The risk of suicide associated with an older age of SSD onset suggests first episode psychosis programs should incorporate systematic suicide risk assessment and management, extend the age of enrollment and duration of follow-up, and increase the age of eligibility at time of first diagnosis,” the authors write.

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