Holy Hormones Journal: We can no longer ignore the fact that hormonal birth control may indeed be behind perinatal depression, and anxiety. We can no longer ignore the fact that women going into pregnancy do not have the nutritional status to maintain their health as well as the health of their developing fetus. We can no longer ignore that fact that maternal mortality in the United States is higher than most other countries in the world.
We can no longer ignore the fact that our girls and women are suffering.
Perinatal Suicide: Highest Risk Occurs at 9 to 12 Months Postpartum
Even as perinatal mood and anxiety disorders have garnered more attention over the past several years, the most feared consequence of these disorders, suicide, remains a phenomenon that requires greater understanding. While suicide is a leading cause of death in perinatal women, suicide during pregnancy or the postpartum period is often underreported and under-researched. As a result, providers are still learning how to best identify and treat those women at greatest risk of suicide in the perinatal period.
A recent study published by Grigoriadis and colleagues used a retrospective, population-based cohort study to explore rates of suicide in women during pregnancy and the first postpartum year. Most prior studies that have defined perinatal suicide as suicides that occur during pregnancy and up to six weeks postpartum. However, as maternal psychiatric illness most often persists beyond six weeks postpartum, this study expanded the definition of perinatal suicide to include the entire first postpartum year.
Researchers used health administrative databases and coroner death records to identify the perinatal suicide rate for Ontario, Canada during a 15-year period (1994-2008). The demographic and clinical information of women who completed perinatal suicide was compared to age-matched, living perinatal women, as well as to women who completed suicide outside the perinatal period.
Ultimately, they found that suicide accounted for 5.3% (51 of 966) of perinatal deaths, or approximately 1 out of every 19 deaths in pregnant or postpartum women during that time period. Perinatal women most frequently completed suicide at 9 to 12 months postpartum. Women who completed perinatal suicide were more likely to do so by lethal methods, like hanging, jumping, or falling, compared to women who completed suicide outside of the perinatal period. As expected, those women who completed suicide, either during or outside of the perinatal period, had higher rates of prior psychiatric illness compared to the control group of living perinatal women.