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High Suicide Risk With Bipolar Disorder and Comorbidities

May 19, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO—Adults with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder were 6 times as likely to have suicidal behavior, researchers found in a study presented during a poster session at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting.

“The study of risk factors and comorbidities in bipolar disorder is important to help inform the approach to treatment,” wrote poster presenter Shirin Vartak, DO, lead author Rikinkumar S. Patel, MD, MPH, and coauthors Hema Mekala, MD, and William E. Tankersly, MD.

PosterStudy findings were based on a national sample of 232,915 US adults with bipolar disorder hospitalized in 2014. Researchers used the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database to identify adults with bipolar disorder and suicidal behaviors, as well as other psychiatric and medical comorbidities. Compared to inpatients without bipolar disorder, inpatients with bipolar disorder had 12.3-fold increased odds of suicidal behavior, according to the poster abstract.

In addition to the 6-fold increase in odds of suicidal behavior in the study population with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, researchers found bipolar disorder was associated with increased odds of suicidal behaviors with major depressive disorder (4.36 odds ratio), drug abuse (3.67 odds ratio), and alcohol abuse (3.64 odds ratio). 

When researchers looked at medical comorbidities, they found bipolar disorder had the highest odds of suicidal behaviors with migraine (1.357 odds ratio), asthma (1.275 odds ratio), and hypothyroidism (1.23 odds ratio).

“Prompt diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric and medical comorbidities associated with bipolar disorder might be beneficial in reducing the suicidality and improving the prognosis,” researchers wrote.

—Jolynn Tumolo


“Association between comorbidities and suicidal behaviors in 232,915 US adults with bipolar disorder.” Abstract presented at: the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 19, 2019; San Francisco, CA.

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