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The Risk of Suicide in Patients With Bipolar Disorders

Sylvia G. Simpson, MD, and Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD

Published: February 1, 1999

Article Abstract

Patients with bipolar disorder have a high risk of committing suicide, but determining the exact risk is complicated. For many years, the lifetime suicide risk in bipolar disorder was accepted as 15%, but recent researchers have suggested that the lifetime suicide risk may be lower. The group of bipolar patients at highest risk of suicide are young men who are in an early phase of the illness, especially those who have made a previous suicide attempt, those abusing alcohol, and those recently discharged from the hospital. The risk is also increased in patients who are in the depressed phase of bipolar illness, who have mixed states, or who have psychotic mania. Lithium prophylaxis appears to decrease suicide attempts.

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Volume: 60

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