People With OCD Are At Higher Risk Of Committing Suicide

June 05, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team

Patients with Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are 10 times more likely to commit suicide, contrary to what was previously thought.

An earlier attempt at suicide is the primary predictor of suicide in OCD patients, according to a recent study from the Karolinska Institutet that was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. This finding presents the potential for prevention.

90 per cent of those who die by suicide suffer from a mental disorder

Every year, suicide is thought to be the cause of 800,000 deaths worldwide, making it a serious public health issue. A mental disorder is thought to be the cause of 90 per cent of suicide deaths, making people with mental health issues more likely to commit suicide.

The risk of suicide among those who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders, has received little attention, though. In the general population, OCD has a lifetime frequency of roughly 2%, typically has a chronic course, and is frequently linked to a significantly lower quality of life. The risk of suicide in OCD has traditionally been considered low.

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (“obsessions”) and/or behaviours (“compulsions”) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.

People with OCD may have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions, or both. These symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships.

Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety.

How is suicidal behaviour associated with people affected by OCD?

To estimate the risk of suicide among people affected by OCD and identify risk and protective factors associated with suicidal behaviour in this group, the researchers analyzed data from the Swedish national registers, spanning over 40 years.

They identified 36 788 OCD patients in the Swedish National Patient Register between 1969 and 2013, of whom 545 had died by suicide and 4297 had attempted suicide.

About 10 times as many people were in danger of dying by suicide, and five times as many people were at risk of trying to commit suicide. After adjustment for other psychiatric disorders, the risk was reduced but remained substantial.

Previous suicide attempt was the strongest predictor of death by suicide

An earlier attempt at suicide was the most effective predictor of suicide mortality in the OCD cohort. Additionally raising the risk were personality disorders and substance abuse issues. According to Assistant Professor Lorena Fernández de la Cruz at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, having an anxiety illness and being a woman were risk factors, while having a higher socioeconomic status and being a woman were protective factors.

The researchers concluded that clinicians should know individuals with OCD are at substantial risk of suicide, especially in the absence of other psychiatric illnesses. These patients’ risk of suicide, particularly those who have made prior suicide attempts, needs to be continuously monitored.

Which Skills Will Help Patients With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

A new research now shows that OCD sufferers need to adopt adaptive coping skills from a situation, in order to effectively manage their condition.


These findings represent a first step in the development of preventive interventions meant to shield OCD patients from potentially catastrophic outcomes.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Karolinska Institutet. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

L Fernández de la Cruz, M Rydell, B Runeson, B M D’Onofrio, G Brander, C Rück, P Lichtenstein, H Larsson, D Mataix-Cols. Suicide in obsessive–compulsive disorder: a population-based study of 36 788 Swedish patients. Molecular Psychiatry, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/mp.2016.115

Page citation:

Karolinska Institutet. “Patients with OCD are 10 times more likely to commit suicide.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 July 2016. <>.

Help is here:

Toll-Free Mental Health Rehabilitation Helpline Kiran (1800-599-0019)

Name of the Organisation: Vandrevala Foundation

Vandrevala Foundation is a non-profit that partners with organizations to help communities thrive by providing education and healthcare. Vandrevala Foundation launched a mental health helpline in India in 2009 to offer free psychological counselling and crisis mediation to anyone who is experiencing distress due to depression, trauma, mood disorders, chronic illness, and relationship conflict.


Contact: Email:

Telephone: +91 9999 666 555

 Name of the Organisation: Aasra

AASRA volunteers conduct workshops on different levels with high-risk target groups eg school, college students, highly-stressed employees of call centres, financial institutions, multinationals etc. AASRA volunteers have Outreach programs to reach out to the multitudes who may choose to end their lives because of chronic suffering or terminal illness.

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 Telephone: 91-9820466726

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