Current Psychiatry Reports

, 22:6 | Cite as

Bipolar Disorder and Suicide: a Review

  • Jacob N. Miller
  • Donald W. BlackEmail author
Bipolar Disorders (R Hirschfeld, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Bipolar Disorders


Purpose of Review

Bipolar disorder has the highest rate of suicide of all psychiatric conditions and is approximately 20–30 times that of the general population. The purpose of this review is to discuss findings relevant to bipolar disorder and suicide.

Recent Findings

Risk factors include male gender, living alone, divorced, no children, Caucasian, younger age (< 35 years), elderly age (> 75 years), unemployment, and a personal history of suicide attempt and family history of suicide attempt or suicide completion, as well as predominant depressive polarity. Suicide is associated with the depressed or mixed subtypes, not mania. Although there are emerging treatments for bipolar depression, such as ketamine and TMS, lithium remains the only medication associated with lowered suicide rates in bipolar disorder.


Understanding clinical and demographic risk factors for suicide in bipolar disorder remains the best way to prevent suicidal behavior. Early intervention and treatment with anti-suicidal medications, such as lithium, along with close observation and follow-up is the best way to mitigate suicide in patients with bipolar disorder.


Bipolar disorder Suicide Suicide attempt Suicide completion Suicide risk factors 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts 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, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Iowa Hospitals and ClinicsIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of MedicineIowa CityUSA

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