Suicide mortality in mental retardation:a 35-year follow-up study


Kristiina Patja, Department of Child Neurology, Hospital for Children and Adolescents, PO Box 280, 00029 HYKS, Helsinki, Finland


Objective: We investigated suicide mortality among people with mental retardation (MR) over a period of 35 years.

Method: The nationwide, population-based cohort of 2369 people with MR was followed-up from a representative sample of 9.4% of the population in Finland in 1962. The standardized mortality ratio of suicides was calculated and case studies of all MR suicides based on all available data were performed.

Results: Women with MR had an equal suicide risk to Finnish women in general, while men had only one-third of the population risk. Risk factors for suicide were similar to those in the general population. Most suicide victims had mild MR and were hospitalized for comorbid mental disorders. Suicide methods were passive and alcohol was involved in only one case.

Conclusion: Suicide mortality in MR is significantly lowered among males. Suicide prevention in MR should be focused on people with comorbid mental disorders. Problems in adjustment to new circumstances need to be recognized. Appropriate and adequate treatment of comorbid depression is emphasized.