The longitudinal association between lifetime mental disorders and first onset or recurrent suicide ideation

Derek De Beurs*, Margreet Ten Have, Pim Cuijpers, Ron De Graaf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Although the cross-sectional association between mental disorders and suicide ideation is well studied, less is known about the prospective association. In this paper, we estimated among those without 12-month suicide ideation at baseline, the association between a wide variety of common mental disorders at baseline and suicide ideation within the 6-year follow-up period, after controlling for history of other mental disorders and demographic variables. Methods: Data were used from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study-2 (NEMESIS-2), a prospective representative adult cohort study with baseline (n = 6646) with a 6-year follow-up period. Lifetime mental disorders were assessed at baseline with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview 3.0. Within the longitudinal design, participants with first time or recurrent suicide ideation were defined follows: having no suicide ideation in the 12 months before the baseline assessment, and reporting to have had seriously thought about suicide between baseline and the 6-year follow-up period. Multiple logistical regression was used to estimate the longitudinal association between suicide ideation and a specific mental disorder while controlling for comorbidity and baseline variables. To account for the prevalence of a disorder in the population, for each disorder, the population attributable risk proportion (PARP) was calculated. Results: 2.9% (n = 132) of the participants that did not report suicide ideation in the past 12 months at baseline reported suicide ideation at follow-up. Of these 132 cases, 81 (61%) experienced suicide ideation for the first time in their lives and could be viewed as first onset cases. 51 (39%) reported recurrent suicide ideation. After controlling for comorbidity, the only two disorders that were significantly related to suicide ideation at follow-up were lifetime major depressive disorder (MDD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). PARP for MDD was 47.8 and 16.6% for GAD. Conclusions: After controlling for all other mental disorders, a lifetime history of MDD and GAD were related to suicide ideation at follow-up. For clinical practice, this indicates that patients with a history of MDD or GAD stay vulnerable for suicide ideation, even though they did not report suicide ideation in the past year.

Original languageEnglish
Article number345
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2019


  • Comorbidity
  • Epidemiology
  • Suicidal behavior


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