Adolescence and Epilepsy: The Perfect Storm for Suicidal Behavior

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Self-Injurious and Suicidal Behavior in Young Adults, Teens, and Children With Epilepsy: A Population-Based Study Wirrell EC, Bieber EW, Vanderwiel A, et al. Epilepsia. 2020;61(9):1919-1930. doi:10.1111/epi.16618 Objective: Whereas studies in adult epilepsy patients have shown higher rates of suicidal ideation and attempt, such studies in children are limited. Using the Rochester Epidemiology Project database, we compared the risk of self-injurious behavior and suicidal ideation in a population-based cohort of childhood epilepsy to controls. Methods: We studied 339 cases with epilepsy and 678 age- and sex-matched controls followed to a median age of 24.7 and 23.4 years and identified 98 patients with self-injurious behavior or suicidal ideation (43 with epilepsy and 55 controls). All behaviors were categorized using the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale. Results: Those with epilepsy had a significantly higher rate of any self-injurious behavior and suicidal ideation (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.56, 95% CI = 1.04-2.35) and tended to have an increased risk of suicidal ideation and attempt (HR = 1.48, 95% CI = 0.93-2.37). The prevalence of preceding mood and substance abuse disorders was similarly high in both cases and controls with self-injurious behavior or suicidal ideation; however, preceding attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder was more than twice as common in the epilepsy cases. Among cases with epilepsy, we did not identify any specific epilepsy-related variable that was significantly correlated with risk of self-injurious behavior or suicidal ideation. Significance: Children, teens, and young adults with a history of childhood epilepsy are at greater risk of self-injurious behavior, highlighting the need for careful screening of mental health concerns as part of routine epilepsy care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-86
Number of pages2
JournalEpilepsy Currents
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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