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A new study by researchers at the University of Toronto shows that individuals who have schizophrenia also have a much higher risk of suicide, and that is not all that the study showed. Schizophrenic individuals who were victims of childhood physical abuse were 5 times more likely to attempt suicide as those who were not. For the population without schizophrenia the suicide rate is 2.8%, with schizophrenia the rate of suicide is a staggering 39.2% according to the results of this newest study. Lead study author Dr. Esme Fuller-Thomson reported “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. 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.”

The researchers who explored the link between schizophrenia, physical childhood abuse, and an increase in suicide risks used a representative sample of more than 21,000 Canadians who responded to the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health. 101 respondents reported having schizophrenia. Study co-author Bailey Hollister explained “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.” The study researchers also found that traumatic experiences during childhood tended to strongly influence suicidal ideation in individuals.