Suicide during Perinatal Period: Epidemiology, Risk Factors, and Clinical Correlates

Front Psychiatry. 2016 Aug 12:7:138. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00138. eCollection 2016.


Perinatal period may pose a great challenge for the clinical management and treatment of psychiatric disorders in women. In fact, several mental illnesses can arise during pregnancy and/or following childbirth. Suicide has been considered a relatively rare event during the perinatal period. However, in some mental disorders (i.e., postpartum depression, bipolar disorder, postpartum psychosis, etc.) have been reported a higher risk of suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, or suicide. Therefore, a complete screening of mothers' mental health should also take into account thoughts of suicide and thoughts about harming infants as well. Clinicians should carefully monitor and early identify related clinical manifestations, potential risk factors, and alarm symptoms related to suicide. The present paper aims at providing a focused review about epidemiological data, risk factors, and an overview about the main clinical correlates associated with the suicidal behavior during the pregnancy and postpartum period. Practical recommendations have been provided as well.

Keywords: perinatal period; postpartum; pregnancy; puerperium; suicidal ideation; suicide; suicide attempt.

Publication types

  • Review