Declaration of interest
Although the incidence of suicide among women who have given birth during the past 12 months is lower than that of women who have not given birth, suicide remains one of the most common causes of death during the year following delivery in high-income countries, such as Sweden.
To characterise women who died by suicide during pregnancy and postpartum from a maternal care perspective.
We traced deaths (n = 103) through linkage of the Swedish Cause of Death Register with the Medical Birth and National Patient Registers. We analysed register data and obstetric medical records.
The maternal suicide ratio was 3.7 per 100 000 live births for the period 1980–2007, with small magnitude variation over time. The suicide ratio was higher in women born in low-income countries (odds ratio 3.1 (95% CI 1.3–7.7)). Violent suicide methods were common, especially during the first 6 months postpartum. In all, 77 women had received psychiatric care at some point, but 26 women had no documented psychiatric care. Antenatal documentation of psychiatric history was inconsistent. At postpartum discharge, only 20 women had a plan for psychiatric follow-up.
Suicide prevention calls for increased clinical awareness and cross-disciplinary maternal care approaches to identify and support women at risk.
This work was supported by a grant from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research [FAS 2007–2026] and by the Medical Faculty of Uppsala University.
- © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2016.
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