WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People newly diagnosed with epilepsy have an especially high risk of suicide and doctors should keep an eye on them, Danish researchers reported on Monday.
Patients with epilepsy had a three times higher risk of suicide, the researchers found, but the risk fell the longer someone had lived with the condition.
“Our study identifies people with newly diagnosed epilepsy as a vulnerable group that require special attention,” the researchers wrote in the journal Lancet Neurology.
Those who had been diagnosed six months ago or less were five times more likely to commit suicide, Dr. Per Sidenius and colleagues at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark found.
They compared the medical records of more than 21,000 people who committed suicide and more than 423,000 people who died of other causes between 1981 and 1997.
“Among individuals who committed suicide, 492 (2.32 percent) had a history of epilepsy compared with 3,140 (0.74 percent) controls,” they wrote.
Those recently diagnosed with epilepsy who also had a psychiatric illness were 29 times as likely to commit suicide, the study said.