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People with recent dementia diagnosis found to have higher suicide risk

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People who have recently been diagnosed with dementia, or who are diagnosed with the condition at a younger age, are among those at increased risk of suicide, researchers have found. The findings have prompted calls for greater support for those experiencing such cognitive decline.

While previous research has explored a potential link between dementia diagnosis and suicide risk, the results have been inconclusive, with some suggesting a raised risk and others a reduced risk.

Now researchers say certain groups of people with dementia are at increased risk of suicide.

“What it tells us is that period immediately after diagnosis is when people really need support from the services that provide the diagnosis,” said Dr Charles Marshall, co-author of the research and a clinical senior lecturer and honorary consultant neurologist at the Wolfson Institute of Population Health at Queen Mary University of London.

In the first three months after being told they had dementia, those diagnosed before the age of 65 had an almost seven times greater risk of suicide compared with those without dementia – although this reduced somewhat over time.

Marshall said it was unclear whether the findings were down to dementia itself causing people to feel suicidal, or factors such as people being concerned they may become a burden to their family.

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Source: The Guardian, 3 October 2022

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