Columbia University Medical Center

Smoking History Predicts Suicidal Behaviors

Researchers led by Lirio S. Covey, PhD, professor of clinical psychology (in psychiatry) at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, found that smoking history is a significant predictor of future suicidal behaviors, or suicidal-related outcomes (SROs). In longitudinal data from a sample of former and current adults smokers in the United States, initial interviews predicted suicidal-related outcomes (SROs) during the next three years—even after controlling for known predictors of SRO, including demographic characteristics, psychiatric history, and prior SRO.

Of particular clinical importance is the finding that for former smokers, longer abstinence from smoking decreased the SRO risk. The researchers also found that a history of SROs did not increase a person’s risk of future smoking.

The researchers defined SROs as a desire to die, suicidal ideation, or an unsuccessful suicide attempt. The participants all self-reported low mood in an interview that took place three years after an initial interview.

“Smoking and suicidal behaviors in a sample of US adults with low mood: a retrospective analysis of longitudinal data” was published online in BMJ Open on June 8, 2012.

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