Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, and, in women, nearly half of all suicide deaths occur during their reproductive years. Suicide is associated with psychiatric illness, especially mood and anxiety disorders. Childhood adversities, such as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and intimate partner violence increase the risk of suicide. Having more than one psychiatric disorder or comorbid substance use disorder also increases the risk of suicide. Substance use disorders can be the triggering factor for a suicide attempt among those who have a psychiatric condition and suicidal thoughts. Women attempt suicide three times more often than men, although they are less likely to complete suicide. Although the rate of suicide decreases in the perinatal period, pregnant women are more likely to use violent means. Women who complete suicide in the perinatal period are also more likely to be younger, married, and experiencing a depressive episode. For many women, the only encounter with the medical system they have might be in reproductive health care clinics. This means that their obstetrician–gynecologist has a unique opportunity to address women’s mental health and enhance suicide prevention. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends screening for depression among perinatal women. Clinicians need to be aware that women with severe perinatal depression are at increased risk of suicide and that women with suicidal thoughts need careful monitoring, evaluation, and treatment.
ACOG: The Collision of Mental Health, Substance Use Disorder, and Suicide