Suicide Rate is 22% Higher among People with Epilepsy than the General Population

July 29, 2016

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


According to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with epilepsy have a 22 percent higher rate of suicide than the general population. Using data from the 2003–2011 U.S. National Violent Death Reporting System, CDC researchers estimated suicide rates and risk factors for suicide among people with epilepsy compared to the general population. They found that, among adults ages 40–49, suicide occurred more frequently among people with epilepsy than those without epilepsy. They also found that people with epilepsy were more likely to die by suicide in a residential setting and by poisoning. The researchers stressed that these findings should inform prevention efforts, such as involving caregivers and family members of people with epilepsy to help minimize exposure to poisonous substances in the home. Rosemarie Kobau, health scientist in CDC’s Division of Population Health and a co-author on the report, said, “Caregivers of people with epilepsy and other members of the public can participate in programs such as Mental Health First Aid, an evidence-based program available in many U.S. communities that teaches people about mental illness symptoms, and how to recognize and intervene during a mental health crisis.”

Spark Extra! To learn more, read the research abstract.