TUESDAY, Oct. 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Specific subgroups of patients diagnosed with dementia may have an increased risk for suicide, including those diagnosed before age 65 years, according to a study published online Oct. 3 in JAMA Neurology.

Danah Alothman, B.M.B.Ch., M.P.H., from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a population-based case control study to examine the association between a dementia diagnosis and suicide risk. Participants were all patients aged 15 years or older and registered with a death coded as suicide or open verdict; up to 40 live control participants were randomly matched to each suicide case. Of the total sample of 594,674 patients, 580,159 were controls and 14,515 died by suicide.

The researchers found that 1.9 percent of the patients who died by suicide had a recorded dementia diagnosis. There was no overall significant association identified between a diagnosis of dementia and suicide risk (adjusted odds ratio, 1.05; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.85 to 1.29). A significantly increased risk for suicide was seen for patients diagnosed with dementia before age 65 years, in the first three months of diagnosis, and in those with dementia and psychiatric comorbidity (adjusted odds ratios [95 percent confidence intervals], 2.82 [1.84 to 4.33], 2.47 [1.49 to 4.09], and 1.52 [1.21 to 1.93], respectively). Compared with patients without dementia, the suicide risk was 6.69 times higher for patients with dementia who were younger than 65 years and who were within three months of diagnosis.

“We suggest that the current efforts for timely dementia diagnosis take place hand in hand with robust risk assessment and support, in particular targeting patients with dementia who are most vulnerable to suicide,” the authors write.

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