Prevalence and Clinical Correlates of and Cognitive Function at the Time of Suicide Attempts in First-Episode and Drug-Naive Patients With Schizophrenia

Background: It is well established that patients with chronic schizophrenia have a substantially higher rate of attempted and completed suicide than the general population. However, the actual prevalence of suicide attempts at first-episode psychosis is relatively unknown. Previous studies showed that suicidal schizophrenia patients demonstrate higher cognitive function than nonsuicidal patients, though with inconsistent results. The aims of the study were to examine the prevalence of suicide attempts and the association of this prevalence with demographic and clinical variables and cognitive function in Chinese first-episode, drug-naive (FEDN) schizophrenia patients using a cross-sectional and case-control design.

Method: A total of 357 FEDN inpatients meeting DSM-IV criteria for schizophrenia and 380 healthy controls were enrolled and completed a detailed in-house questionnaire. The suicide attempt data were collected from medical records and interviews with the patients and their family members. The Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS) was administered to measure cognition in the 28 patients with and 95 patients without a history of suicide attempt and 151 healthy controls. Also, patients were rated on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). This study was conducted from June 2013 to December 2015.

Results: A suicide attempt rate of 12.0% was found in inpatients with first-episode schizophrenia. The attempters were more likely to smoke (34.4% vs 17.9%; χ2 = 5.49, P = .019) and had lower severity of negative symptoms (F1,354 = 4.12, P = .043) as compared to FEDN patients without a suicide attempt. All 5 RBANS subscales (all P < .001) except for the Visuospatial/Constructional index (P > .05) showed significantly lower cognitive performance for FEDN patients than for healthy controls. Among the FEDN patients, the suicide attempters performed better than nonattempters on attention (F1,121 = 5.12, P = .025), with an effect size of 0.49. The following variables were independently associated with suicide attempt as shown by multivariate regression analysis: PANSS negative symptom subscale score (Wald χ21 = 7.90 P = .005; adjusted OR = 0.807, 95% CI, 0.696–0.936) and Attention (Wald χ21 = 4.69, P = .03; adjusted OR = 0.957, 95% CI, 0.918–0.997).

Conclusions: FEDN patients with schizophrenia attempt suicide more often than the general population. The suicidal patients were more likely to smoke, had lower severity of negative symptoms, and showed better attention than nonsuicidal patients.

J Clin Psychiatry 2018;79(4):17m11797

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.17m11797