Increased risk of suicide in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder

title Fernández de la Cruz et al

In a recent study published in Molecular Psychiatry, members of our group and colleagues at Karolinska Institutet have looked at suicide in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The study compared rates of suicide among 36 788 patients with OCD and matched controls without an OCD diagnosis.

The risk of dying by suicide was found to be about 10 times higher in patients with OCD (OR = 9.83 (95% CI, 8.72-11.08). Patients with OCD were also about 5 times more likely to attempt suicide (OR = 5.45 (05% CI, 5.24-5.67). The risk was marginally attenuated in women compared to men.

Lorena Fernández de la Cruz and her co-authors also note that the increased risk of death by suicide

“… remained substantial after adjusting for different groups of psychiatric comorbidities that are already known to be associated with suicide. In fact, 43% of the individuals from the OCD cohort who died by suicide did not have any other recorded psychiatric comorbidity.” (p. 4)

They argue that OCD is associated with an increased risk of death by suicide in its own right. The main predictor for dying by suicide was a previous suicide attempt.

The message for clinicians is clear:

“OCD should be added to the list of psychiatric disorders that are known to increase the risk of suicide in their own right. Suicide risk needs to be carefully monitored in these patients, particularly in those who have previously attempted suicide.” (p. 6)

The paper is freely available here.