The link between asthma and an increased risk of suicide is supported in a review by researchers from the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention.
The majority of the 19 studies included in the systematic review supported the association between asthma and suicide, with only two failing to find any significant link, found the researchers from the AISRP which is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Suicide Prevention.
Young people who engage in risky behaviours like smoking and drinking appeared to be particularly susceptible.
“It may be prudent for individuals caring for these children to be wary of the potential for suicide behaviours in this group,” the authors wrote in the review published in European Respiratory Journal.
The risk may be highest in the weeks after medical treatment is first sought and it may be important for medical practitioners to be aware of this risk when treating patients with severe disease, they said.
It had been suggested that asthma medications exacerbate suicide risk but research had returned mixed results and “there appears to be little conclusive evidence consistently linking these medications with suicidal behaviour”.
The authors noted limitations to the review and studies included in the review, such as the use of a large number of cross-sectional studies that they said made it difficult to determine the direction of causality in the relationship between suicidal behaviour and asthma.