Current Psychiatry Reports

, 15:389 | Cite as

The Link Between Suicide and Insomnia: Theoretical Mechanisms

  • W. Vaughn McCall
  • Carmen G. Black
Sleep Disorders (RM Benca, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Sleep Disorders


Insomnia has been established as a risk factor for depression and mental illness for decades, but a growing body of evidence has recently exposed insomnia to be an independent risk factor for suicide that encompasses all age ranges. This discovery has invigorated investigation to elucidate the relationship between insomnia and suicide, and over 20 studies reinforcing this association in adults have been published since 2010 alone. This article analyzes relevant research and emphasizes studies published within the last three years with the intent of proposing theoretical mechanisms explaining the link between suicide and insomnia. These mechanisms may then be used as targets for future investigation of treatment.


Sleep Depression Suicide Risk factors Insomnia Hopelessness Nightmares Mechanisms Dysfunctional belief about sleep Decision making Serotonin Hyperarousal Circadian rhythm of suicide Psychiatry 



This research was supported by National Institutes of Health grant MH095776-01A1.

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

W. Vaughn McCall has received compensation from Luitpold Pharmaceuticals for serving as a consultant, has received royalties from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins for serving as editor for The Journal of ECT, and has received compensation from CME for development of educational presentations.

Carmen G. Black declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior, Medical College of GeorgiaGeorgia Regents UniversityAugustaUSA
  2. 2.Medical College of GeorgiaGeorgia Regents UniversityAugustaUSA

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