What is the role of sleep in the development of suicidal behaviors?

Updated: Aug 29, 2019
  • Author: Stephen Soreff, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Sleep difficulty remains an indicator for not only depression and anxiety disorders but also a risk factor for suicide. Bjørngaard and colleagues studied sleeping problems and suicide in 75,000 Norwegian adults for 20 years. They concluded that problems with sleeping, perhaps in combination with or as a consequence of anxiety and depression, should be considered a marker of suicide risk. [86]

A team of researchers from Yale University found that people with severe restless legs syndrome (RLS) are more likely to plan and attempt suicide than people without RLS, even after controlling for depression. The team investigated the frequency of lifetime suicidal behavior in 198 patients with severe RLS and 164 controls. All participants completed the Suicidal Behavior Questionnaire-revised (SBQ-R) and the Brief Lifetime Depression Scale. Results show significantly more patients with RLS than controls were at high suicide risk (SBQ-R score ≥ 7) and had lifetime suicidal thoughts or behavior, independent of depression history. [87]

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