JUL 29, 2016 2:49 PM PDT

OCD Patients 10 Times More Likely to Commit Suicide

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet
Skitterphoto via Pixabay.com

Let’s say you’re having gross, uncomfortable, or scary thoughts - e.g. thoughts about your children dying or having sex with someone you would never want to have sex with. These thoughts are shocking, but they generally don’t make sense. The majority of people can thus put them aside and move on. A person suffering from OCD, however, wouldn’t be able to. There are many different “obsessions” that could torture a person with OCD, and these obsessions can come in the form of thoughts, images, or even impulses. To tame the obsession, the person uses compulsive, often ritualistic behaviors, such as washing their hands. This could result in the person washing their hands so many times per hour that they’ve scrubbed their skin off. 

An estimated 800,000 deaths are attributed to suicide each year.  OCD is one of the most common psychiatric disorder. Thus, both are major health problems. Yet, the risk of suicide among patients with OCD has been largely unstudied.Previous studies looking into the matter used a small sample size and were methodologically flawed. 

Now, research openly published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry shows that patients with OCD are ten times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. 

Karolinska Institutet researchers analyzed data from the Swedish National Patient Register. They identified 36,788 OCD patients between 1969 and 2013; 545 had died by suicide and 4297 had attempted suicide. Even after adjusting for other psychiatric disorders, the increased risk was significant. The strongest predictive factor of death by suicide among OCD patients was a previous suicide attempt. The results could be used in coming up with strategies to prevent OCD patients from dying by suicide. 

Sources: “Suicide in obsessive–compulsive disorder: a population-based study of 36 788 Swedish patients” published in Nature Molecular Psychiatry, The International OCD FoundationKarolinska Institutet press release via Science Daily 
About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
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