Insight in schizophrenia and risk of suicide: a systematic update

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Background: Suicide has been shown to represent the major single cause of premature death among patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Insight has been proposed to increase such risk. However, this subject has not been sufficiently investigated, and inconclusive results have been reported.

Objective: The objective of this study is to systematically examine the role of insight in the risk of suicide attempts and completed suicide among patients with schizophrenia and related disorders.

Method: Articles assessing insight and suicidality in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders published between 1977 and 2010 were reviewed. A MEDLINE search strategy was used to identify studies using keywords. Application of meta-analytic techniques to selected studies was not possible because of important methodological differences between them.

Results: Fifteen studies met predetermined selection criteria. Ten failed to demonstrate a positive association between insight and risk for suicide.

Discussion: There is little evidence to support the suggestion that insight may represent a risk factor for suicide in patients with schizophrenia. If there is an association between such risk and insight, it appears to be mediated by other variables such as depression and, above all, hopelessness. Further studies with larger samples and longer follow-up periods in naturalistic conditions, in which insight should be evaluated from a multidimensional approach, are required to analyze this issue in depth, given the crucial implications that it may have on the development of a model for suicide prevention in schizophrenia. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-322
Number of pages10
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • Risk
  • Humans
  • Adult
  • Suicide
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Aged
  • Middle Aged
  • Adolescent
  • Male
  • Female


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