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Smokers At Higher Suicide Risk

But researchers saw no such association among former smokers

FRIDAY, March 11, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- People who smoke every day may be at increased risk for suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts, researchers report.

The exact links between smoking and suicidal tendencies remain unclear, however, and the researchers did not find any increased risk for suicide among former smokers who had kicked the habit.

Researchers at Michigan State University first interviewed the study participants, aged 21 to 30, in 1989. Follow-up interviews, involving nearly 900 people, were conducted in 1992, 1994 and 1999.

During the interviews, the participants were asked about their smoking history, whether they were current or former daily smokers, and any history of psychiatric disorders.

Over the 10-year follow-up period, 19 of the study participants attempted suicide and 130 reported having suicidal thoughts. Current daily smoking was linked to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts, the study found, even after adjusting for factors such as prior psychiatric problems or any history of substance abuse.

Rates of suicidal behavior were highest among study participants who experienced depression at the start of each follow-up period, the researchers noted.

They write that, although links between smoking and suicide have been noted since the 1970s, the exact nature of the association remains "unclear."

The findings appear in the March issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

More information

The American Association of Suicidology has information about suicide warning signs.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives Journals, news release, March 7, 2005
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