Untreated psychotic illness in the survivors of violent suicide attempts

Early Interv Psychiatry. 2009 May;3(2):116-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-7893.2009.00117.x.


Background: Recent studies suggest that violence is more common in the first episode of psychosis than after treatment.

Aim: To estimate the proportion of survivors of violent suicide attempts during psychotic illness who had not previously received treatment with antipsychotic medication.

Methods: An audit of the medical records of patients admitted to an inner city trauma centre after having survived a jump of more than 3 m or a self-inflicted gunshot wound or stab wound to a vital body part.

Results: There were 88 survivors of violent suicide attempts. Thirty-seven of those had a psychotic illness, including 33 with a schizophrenia-spectrum psychosis. Of the 37, 18 (48.6%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 32.3-65.0%) had never received treatment for psychosis.

Conclusion: As first episode psychosis is less common than previously treated psychosis, there appears to be a higher risk of violent suicide attempts during the first episode of psychosis than later in the illness.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delayed Diagnosis / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Violence / psychology*