University of Illinois Chicago Scholars Find Connection Between Menstrual Cycle and Risk of Suicide

A new study has found that women with a history of suicidal thoughts and experiences have a higher risk of suicidal ideation or planning in the days surrounding menstruation. The project is the first of its kind to track how suicidality fluctuates throughout the menstrual cycle. The study is co-led by Jordan Barone, an M.D./Ph.D. student, and Jaclyn Ross, clinical research scientist at the University of Illinois Chicago.

“As clinicians, we feel responsible for keeping our patients safe from a suicide attempt, but we often don’t have much information about when we need to be most concerned about their safety,” said Tory Eisenlohr-Moul, associate professor of psychiatry who serves as the project’s senior author. “This study establishes that the menstrual cycle can affect many people who have suicidal thoughts, which makes it one of the only predictable recurring risk factors that has been identified for detecting when a suicide attempt might occur.”

The study was conducted by tracking 119 patients who completed daily surveys tracking suicidal thoughts and mental health symptoms over the course of at least one menstrual cycle. Results found that suicidal planning was most likely to occur in the days just before and shortly after the first day of menstruation. The majority of study participants reported an increase in symptoms such as depression and anxiety during this time frame. However, the researchers also found that differences in mental health symptoms over the course of the menstrual cycle varied between patients, suggesting the need for more research on individual suicide prevention.

“We’re excited to use the best methods out there to try to create individual prediction models for each person, so that we’re not putting people into a box,” Dr. Eisenlohr-Moul said. “We want to really figure out: does the cycle matter for this person, and then exactly how does it matter and how we can best intervene based on that information.”

The full study, “Predicting Acute Changes in Suicidal Ideation and Planning: A Longitudinal Study of Symptom Mediators and the Role of the Menstrual Cycle in Female Psychiatric Outpatients With Suicidality,” was published on the website of The American Journal of Psychiatry. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply