Major Mood Disorders and Suicidal Behavior

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Citations (Scopus)


Although suicide (an act of deliberately taking one's own life) and suicide attempts (self-injurious acts with some intent to end one's own life) are complex, multi-causal human behaviours, associated with many risk and protective factors, we argue that untreated major depressive episode is the most important risk factor. Up to 15% of patients with major mood disorders (i.e., bipolar and major depressive disorders) die by suicide and about half of them make at least one suicide attempt during their lifetime. Suicidal behaviour in patients with mood disorder occurs almost exclusively during an acute, severe, major depressive episode, and less frequently in dysphoric mania, but very rarely during euphoric mania, hypomania and euthymia. This suggests that suicidal behaviour in patients with major mood disorders is a state- and severity-dependent phenomenon. However, since the majority of mood disorder patients never take their own lives (and up to 50% of them never attempt suicide), other personality and psychosocial risk factors are likely to also play a significant contributory role. This chapter summarises the clinically detectable suicide risk and protective factors in patients with major mood disorders and highlights effective suicide prevention strategies. Illness- and personality-related suicide risk factors, as well as specific data on family and personal history, can help clinicians in the identification of patients with mood disorders at high suicidal risk. Appropriate acute and long-term treatment of depressive disorders, including both pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods, markedly reduces the risk of completed and attempted suicide, even in this high-risk population.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe International Handbook of Suicide Prevention
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781118903223
ISBN (Print)9781118903278
Publication statusPublished - Oct 18 2016


  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar I disorder
  • Bipolar II disorder
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression
  • Family history
  • Life events
  • Lithium
  • Personality disorders
  • Pessimism
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Psycho-social interventions
  • Subthreshold bipolarity
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide
  • Suicide attempt
  • Suicide prediction
  • Suicide prevention
  • Suicide risk factors
  • Unipolar major depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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  • Cite this

    Ríhmer, Z., & Döme, P. (2016). Major Mood Disorders and Suicidal Behavior. In The International Handbook of Suicide Prevention: Second Edition (pp. 74-92). Wiley-Blackwell.