Assessment and treatment of suicide risk in bipolar disorders

Maurizio Pompili, Zoltán Rihmer, Marco Innamorati, David Lester, Paolo Girardi, Roberto Tatarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

70 Citations (Scopus)


Completed suicide and suicide attempts are major issues in the management of bipolar disorders. There is evidence that suicide rates among these patients are more than 20-fold higher than the general population and, furthermore, suicidal behavior is much more lethal in bipolar disorder than in the general population. Patients with mood disorders may sometimes exhibit highly perturbed mixed states, which usually increase the risk of suicide. Such states are particularly frequent in bipolar II patients, especially if patients are treated with antidepressant monotherapy (unprotected by mood stabilizers), when depression switches into mania (or vice versa), or when depression lifts and functioning approaches normality. Researchers worldwide agree that treatment involving lithium is the best way to protect patients from suicide risk. Psychosocial activities, including psychoeducation, can protect bipolar patients either directly or, more probably, indirectly by increasing adherence to treatment and helping in daily difficulties that otherwise may lead to demoralization or hopelessness. An extensive understanding of the psychosocial circumstances and the psychopathology of bipolar patients (including temperament) may help clinicians describe the clinical picture accurately and prevent suicidal behavior in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-136
Number of pages28
JournalExpert review of neurotherapeutics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Bipolar disorder
  • Risk factors
  • Suicide
  • Therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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