To determine whether suicidal ideation or suicide attempts are linked to poor neurocognitive function among individuals with first-episode schizophrenia (FES).
We performed a cross-sectional study on 159 Chinese inpatients (M  = 27.1 years; 52.2% females) with minimal-treated FES and collected their suicidal history through interviews and medical records. Neurocognitive performance, psychopathology, and depressive symptoms were assessed using the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery, the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, and the Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia, respectively.
Approximately 1/10 FES inpatients had any suicide attempts, and more than 1/4 reported lifetime suicidal ideation. Inpatients with a suicide attempt or suicidal ideation scored significantly worse in the overall seven neurocognitive domains compared with those without past suicidal ideation or a suicide attempt. Linear regression suggested that suicide attempts were mainly associated with lower scores in working memory and speed of processing, after adjusting for education levels. The associations remained robust after further controlling for psychopathological and depressive symptoms.
First-episode schizophrenia patients with suicide attempts had more severely impaired neurocognitive performances in specific domains. Fundamental neurocognitive dysfunctions should be assessed, detected, and treated after their suicide risk assessments.

© 2020 The American Association of Suicidology.