Media Releases

Two in five individuals with schizophrenia have attempted suicide

February 10, 2016

Study finds that those with schizophrenia have six times the odds of suicide attempts

Toron­to, ON – A new study by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to (U of T), released today, found that those with schiz­o­phre­nia who’d been phys­i­cal­ly abused dur­ing child­hood were five times more like­ly to have attempt­ed sui­cide.

The life­time preva­lence of sui­cide attempts among indi­vid­u­als with schiz­o­phre­nia was 39.2 per cent com­pared to 2.8 per cent of those with­out the dis­or­der, accord­ing to the study.

“Even after tak­ing into account most of the known risk fac­tors for sui­cide attempts, those with schiz­o­phre­nia had six times the odds of hav­ing attempt­ed sui­cide in com­par­i­son to those with­out schiz­o­phre­nia,” report­ed lead author Pro­fes­sor Esme Fuller-Thom­son, San­dra Rot­man Endowed Chair at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to’s Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work and Insti­tute for Life Course and Aging.

The study exam­ined a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple of 21,744 com­mu­ni­ty-dwelling Cana­di­ans, of whom 101 report­ed they had been diag­nosed with schiz­o­phre­nia. Data were drawn from the 2012 Cana­di­an Com­mu­ni­ty Health Sur­vey-Men­tal Health.

“When we focused only on the 101 indi­vid­u­als with schiz­o­phre­nia, we found that women and those with a his­to­ry of drug or alco­hol abuse and/or major depres­sive dis­or­der were much more like­ly to have attempt­ed sui­cide,” said co-author Bai­ley Hol­lis­ter, a recent U of T social work grad­u­ate.

Of par­tic­u­lar con­cern, indi­vid­u­als with schiz­o­phre­nia who report­ed that they had been phys­i­cal­ly abused dur­ing their child­hood were five times more like­ly to have attempt­ed sui­cide and ear­ly adver­si­ties explained 24 per cent of the vari­abil­i­ty in sui­cide attempts, said the authors.

“Clear­ly those with schiz­o­phre­nia are an extreme­ly vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tion. Knowl­edge of the added risk of sui­cide attempts asso­ci­at­ed with child­hood abuse and sub­stance abuse could help clin­i­cians improve tar­get­ing and out­reach to this pop­u­la­tion,” said Fuller-Thom­son

The paper was pub­lished online this week in the jour­nal Schiz­o­phre­nia Research and Treat­ment and can be accessed here:


Media con­tact:

Prof. Esme Fuller-Thom­son
Pro­fes­sor & San­dra Rot­man Endowed Chair
Insti­tute for Life Course & Aging
Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work &
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Cell: 416–209-3231

Dominic Ali
Media Rela­tions Offi­cer
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Tel: 416–978-6974
Cell: 647–378-6425