Recent studies out of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden found that people with ADHD have an increased risk of suicide. In addition, they also found an increased risk of suicide in the parents and siblings of people with ADHD.
This study is the first large scale study to show that ADHD and suicidal behaviour could share genetic risk factors. Researchers felt that the findings suggest that genetics may link ADHD and suicidal behaviour.
The study looked at national data for 52,000 patients with ADHD, about a third of whom also had another psychiatric disorder, as well as about 260,000 people without ADHD. The researchers found that, of the study participants without ADHD, 1.3 percent attempted suicide and 0.02 percent completed suicide. People with ADHD had a risk of 9.4 percent attempted suicide and 0.2 percent committed suicide. Parents and siblings of people with ADHD also had an increased risk of suicide, according to the study. The researchers found that 6.6 percent of the parents of people with ADHD attempted suicide, and 0.7 percent completed suicide. Among the siblings, 3.4 percent attempted suicide.
Even when researchers excluded data of people with multiple psychiatric disorders numbers remained well above the norm for people without ADHD.
An additional study found that medication to treat ADHD did not increase suicide attempts or completed suicides and may actually be protective.
In this study 38,000 people in Sweden diagnosed with ADHD between 1960 and 1996.
Experts in the field stated that this was a very well designed study because it was very large and because it tracked suicidal behaviours when individuals were either on or off the medications.