Study finds increased risk of suicide among patients with histories of infections and treatments.
A new study from Denmark has found an association between persons hospitalized with infections and an elevated risk of suicide, with the highest risk among those patients with hepatitis and HIV or AIDS, according to a release from eurekalert.org.
The study was compiled by Helene Lund-Sørensen, B.M., of Copenhagen University Hospital, and co-authors from data contained in the Danish nationwide registers, and looked at individuals from 1980 through 2011. The population of 7.2 million, was scoured for those subjects with a history of infection, defined as one of more infection diagnoses since 1977. The infection diagnoses were categorized into groups, such as pathogen and infection type, hepatitis, genital, central nervous system, HIV and AIDS, and other types.
Findings from the study suggested a hospital stay for treatment of infection was linked with a 42 percent higher risk of death by suicide after comparison with those individuals who were not treated for infections. The study also indicated multiple infections and the length of the required treatment also raised the risk.
“Our findings indicate that infections may have a relevant role in the pathophysiological mechanisms of suicidal behavior,” the study says. “Provided that the association between infection and the risk of death by suicide was causal, identification and early treatment of infections could be explored as a public health measure for prevention of suicide. Still, further efforts are needed to clarify the exact mechanisms by which infection influences human behavior and risk of suicide.”
The authors of the study say the findings support previous studies linking infections to an increased risk of suicidal behavior, but they also acknowledge the risk could also be impacted by a number of other factors as well. The team offered that being hospitalized with a serious infection could have a negative effect on the patient’s psychological well-being also.
The team also said there were limitations on the study, including the inability to determine if the cause of the risk was due to the hospital treatment itself, or the disability that may have been caused by the seriousness of the infection. Additionally, other factors, such as depression, often associated with the presence of infection and its treatment, could be major factors linked to the higher risk numbers.
The study’s results were published online by JAMA Psychiatry.