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June 1978

Suicide, Attempted Suicide, and Relapse Rates in Depression: Occurrence After ECT and Antidepressant Therapy

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City. Dr Avery is now a USPHS Postdoctoral Fellow in Pharmacology, the Psychochemistry Institute, Copenhagen.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1978;35(6):749-753. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1978.01770300091010

• Suicide, attempted suicide, and relapse rates in 519 depressives were examined, comparing the effects of different treatments. After six months, suicide attempts were seen significantly less frequently in the ECT groups (0.8%) than in the antidepressant group (4.2%) or the "adequate" antidepressant subgroup (7.0%) Fewer suicide attempts occurred in the ECT group compared to the antidepressant group among both in those who had attempted suicide prior to admission (0% vs 10%) and in those who had not (1.1% vs 3.6%). A history of attempted suicide showed a greater risk of both suicide (2.9%) in the following year and subsequent suicide attempt (5.9%). A depressive diagnosis may be as good a predictor of suicidal behavior as a history of attempted suicide.

Relapse rates did not differ between treatment groups.