Identifying and Managing Suicide Risk in Bipolar Patients
J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(suppl 25):31-34
© Copyright 2014 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
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Bipolar patients have been shown to be at high risk for suicidal behavior. Therefore, identifying
potentially suicidal patients is necessary in the treatment of bipolar patients. A stress-diathesis model
for suicidal behavior has been proposed to assist clinicians in determining which patients are at risk.
In the model, suicidal behavior is the result of the interaction between an individual’s threshold for
suicidal acts and the stressors that can lead to suicidal behavior. Suicide risk factors can then be categorized
as either diathesis-related or stress-related. In a study applying the model of suicidal behavior
to bipolar disorder, bipolar patients who attempted suicide had higher levels of suicidal ideation,
lifetime aggression, and substance abuse than the comparison group of nonattempters. Attempters had
twice the number of major depressive episodes. Once high-risk patients are identified, their suicide
risk can be managed through treatments such as prophylactic lithium treatment and other pharmacologic