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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Epilepsy 'increases suicide risk'

3 July, 2007

People with epilepsy are three times more likely to commit suicide than other people according to new research.

The researchers, from the Aarhus University Hospital found that women with epilepsy were more likely to kill themselves than men with the condition were.

Accounting
for factors such as mental health, job status, financial status and
marital status, people with epilepsy were still twice as likely to kill
themselves. And people who had been diagnosed within six months were
more than five times more likely to commit suicide.

People
with both epilepsy and a psychiatric illness were nearly 14 times more
likely to commit suicide than people with neither conditon.

In the general population the risk of suicide generally increases with age.
But the researchers found that, in the case of people with epilepsy, the risk of suicide got lower as they got older.

Researcher
Dr Jakob Christensen said: "There may be a number of factors that have
a major impact on the wellbeing of people with chronic disorders such
as epilepsy. We know that epilepsy lowers the overall quality of life
of the affected individuals - especially shortly after the diagnosis is
given.

"An epilepsy diagnosis affects important parts of
people's lives: job opportunities disappear, patients usually lose
their driver's licence, drug treatment may decrease fertility, and
pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of congenital
malformations of the newborn child. The latter may be part of the
explanation of why the impact of epilepsy with regard to suicide seems
greatest in women."

The charity Epilepsy Action said the figures emphasised
the impact that epilepsy could have on a person's life. With the right
anti-epileptic drugs, an estimated 70 per cent of people could be kept
free of seizures.