Mental disorders and comorbidity in suicide

Am J Psychiatry. 1993 Jun;150(6):935-40. doi: 10.1176/ajp.150.6.935.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence and comorbidity of current mental disorders defined by DSM-III-R among a random sample of suicide victims from a nationwide suicide population.

Method: Using a psychological autopsy method, the authors collected comprehensive data on all suicide victims in Finland during 1 year. Retrospective axis I-III consensus diagnoses were assigned to 229 (172 male, 57 female) victims.

Results: One or more diagnoses on axis I were made for 93% of the victims. The most prevalent disorders were depressive disorders (59%) and alcohol dependence or abuse (43%). The prevalence of major depression was higher among females (46%) than among males (26%). Alcohol dependence was more common among the males (39% versus 18% for females). A diagnosis on axis II was made for 31% and at least one diagnosis on axis III for 46% of the cases. Only 12% of the victims received one axis I diagnosis without any comorbidity.

Conclusions: The majority of suicide victims suffered from comorbid mental disorders. Comorbidity needs to be taken into account when analyzing the relationship between suicide and mental disorders and in planning treatment strategies for suicide prevention in clinical practice.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology