Depression is Risky?

Bipolar youth have certain risk factors that can help predict suicide attempts

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Most children with bipolar disorder will not attempt suicide, but the ones who do have a few things in common. Noticing these common risk factors can help prevent suicide attempts.

A recent study followed a group of bipolar I & II children and discovered that more serious depressive episodes and having a family history of depression were the most common predictors of suicide attempts.

"Take your child to a therapist if they’re experiencing depression."

Tina Goldstein, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, interviewed 413 children aged 9-16 with bipolar disorder every nine months over the course of five years.

Results of the study showed that 18 percent of the group made a least one attempt at suicide over the five-year study. Of that subgroup, 41 percent made more than one attempt. Those who attempted more than once were 8 percent of the overall group.

Severity of depressive episodes and family history of depression were significant predictors of suicide attempts. Other predictors included the length of time spent in a depressive state, substance use disorder and mixed mood symptoms.

Girls showed a higher likelihood to attempt suicide than boys did. Another risk factor was the number of weeks spent doing outpatient psychosocial service sessions.

The study noted that bipolar disorder patients have one of the highest suicide rates of all psychiatric disorders. Adults with bipolar disorder have a one in four to one in two chance of attempting suicide at least once and 8 percent to 19 percent will succeed.

Study authors said, “Factors such as depressive severity and family history of depression should be considered in the assessment of suicide risk among youth with bipolar disorder. Persistent depression, mixed presentations, and active substance use disorder signal imminent risk for suicidal behavior in this population.”

This study was published in the July issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. Funding for the research was provided by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, no conflicts of interest were found.

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Review Date: 
July 4, 2012
Last Updated:
December 10, 2012