Suicidal Ideation Assessment in Individuals with Premanifest and Manifest Huntington Disease

J Huntingtons Dis. 2018;7(3):239-249. doi: 10.3233/JHD-180299.


Background: Huntington disease (HD) is associated with increased risk of suicide.

Objective: This study compares suicide ideation in HD to the general population, assesses factors associated with increased prevalence of suicidal thoughts, and compares clinician-rated to self-reported assessments of suicidal ideation.

Methods: We examined 496 participants with premanifest or manifest HD. Clinician-rated suicidal ideation was measured using the Problem Behaviors Assessment - short form. Self-reported ideation was measured using two items from the HDQLIFE Concern with Death and Dying item bank. Independent sample t-tests were conducted to compare the prevalence of suicidal thoughts between our HD sample and the U.S.

Population: Logistic regression analyses were used to determine characteristics associated with higher odds of clinically significant suicidal ideation. Kappa agreement coefficients were calculated to evaluate concurrence between clinician-rated and self-reported assessments.

Results: Our sample had a significantly higher occurrence of suicidal ideation (19.76%) and suicidal plans (2.1%) than the general population (p < 0.0001). Odds of clinically significant suicidal ideation were 6.8 times higher in females (p = 0.04) on the clinician measure, and Hispanic/Latinos had 10.9 times higher odds than non-Hispanics (p = 0.025) on the self-report measure. Clinician-rated assessment had fair agreement (k = 0.2-0.4) with self-reported assessments, except in early stage HD where there was no overlap in the identification of participants with clinically significant suicidal ideation.

Discussion: Assessment for suicidal ideation and clinically significant suicidal thoughts in HD with a multimodal approach that includes clinician-rated and self-report measures is critical at all stages of the disease.

Keywords: Huntington disease; comparing methods; suicidal ideation; suicide; suicide assessment.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / epidemiology
  • Huntington Disease / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prodromal Symptoms
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Self Report
  • Suicidal Ideation*