Suicide in schizophrenia: Risk factors and clozapine treatment

Herbert Y. Meltzer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

109 Scopus citations


Suicide is the major cause of premature death in patients with schizophrenia. Among these patients, 40% report suicidal thoughts, 20 % to 40% make unsuccessful suicide attempts, and 9% to 13% end their lives by suicide. Traditional antipsychotic drugs undertreat many schizophrenic patients and can produce serious side effects, such as tardive dyskinesia. Clozapine is the only antipsychotic drug that has been shown in controlled clinical trials to be effective in reducing both positive and negative symptoms in schizophrenic patients who fail to respond to typical neuroleptic drugs. The potential decrease in suicide among schizophrenic patients treated with clozapine is estimated to be as high as 85%. Treatment with clozapine is cost-effective, and the significant decrease in the risk of suicide far outweights the very low risk of mortality from agranulocytosis. Clozapine should be considered for treatment of both neuroleptic-resistant and neuroleptic-responsive schizophrenic patients who have persistent suicidal thoughts or behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-20
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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