Indexed on: 28 Apr '05Published on: 28 Apr '05Published in: Expert review of neurotherapeutics
There is a high prevalence of suicidal behavior in individuals suffering from schizophrenia and recent investigations substantially elucidate this problem and provide useful insights about clinical risk factors, neurobiologic underpinnings and the impact of various treatments on reducing such behavior. The risk of suicide is greatest early in the course of schizophrenic illness but continues throughout life; risk factors for suicidal behavior include psychosis, depression and substance abuse. Effectively treating positive symptoms and depression, reducing substance abuse, avoiding akathisia, addressing demoralization and instilling hope are important elements in this treatment approach. The newer generation of atypical antipsychotics (particularly clozapine) and new psychologic approaches (particularly cognitive behavioral therapy) appear to be useful in reducing suicidality in schizophrenia. The significant advances in defining the neurobiologic basis of suicidality may enable the development of more effective treatments. The renewed emphasis on resilience and recovery as desired outcomes in schizophrenia and the accompanying sense of hope encourage optimism about effectively reducing suicidality in schizophrenia. Over the past 10 years, much has been learnt and hopefully this momentum will be translated into increasingly better outcomes.