Bipolar pharmacotherapy and suicidal behavior. Part 3: Impact of antipsychotics

Boghos I. Yerevanian, Ralph J. Koek, Jim Mintz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Introduction: Antipsychotics, particularly second generation agents, are widely used in bipolar disorder, but their effect on suicidal behavior in this population has not been systematically studied. Methods: Retrospective chart review of 405 veterans with bipolar disorder followed for a mean of three years, with month-by-month systematic assessment of current pharmacotherapy and suicide completion, attempt or hospitalization for suicidality. Comparison of rates of suicidal events during mood stabilizer monotherapy, antipsychotic monotherapy, and combination of mood stabilizer and antipsychotic. Results: Non-lethal suicide event rates were 9.4 times greater (χ2 = 28.29, p < .0001) during antipsychotic monotherapy and 3.5 times greater during mood stabilizer + antipsychotic (χ2 = 15.13, p = 0.0001) than during mood stabilizer monotherapy. Limitations: Antipsychotics may have been prescribed because patients were at greater risk of suicidal behavior. First and second generation antipsychotics were not distinguished. Conclusions: Treatment of bipolar patients with antipsychotics is associated with an increase in non-lethal suicidal behavior. Thus, use of antipsychotics for bipolar patients requires careful monitoring for suicidal behavior. Further studies are urgently needed to better characterize this relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-28
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Longitudinal study
  • Public health
  • Suicide
  • Suicide attempt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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