Abortion Is Not Associated With An Increase In Suicide Attempts

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Abortion Is Not Associated With An Increase In Suicide Attempts
Abortion Is Not Associated With An Increase In Suicide Attempts

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Abortion is not associated with an increase in suicide attempts

A large 17-year American-Danish study published in The Lancet Psychiatry refutes the claim that women who have an early abortion are more likely to attempt suicide. For the first time, the likelihood of attempted suicide before and after an abortion is compared.

Abortion is not associated with an increase in suicide attempts
Abortion is not associated with an increase in suicide attempts

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A large 17-year American-Danish study published in The Lancet Psychiatry refutes the claim that women who have an early abortion are more likely to attempt suicide. For the first time, the likelihood of attempted suicide before and after an abortion is compared.

Study participants who had abortions had a higher risk of new non-fatal suicide attempts, but detailed analysis of the data showed that they were not directly related to abortion.

“The notion that abortion leads to suicidal thoughts, plans or even attempted suicide has been used to inform abortion policy in some parts of the world … Our research does not support this idea,” said Julia R. Steinberg from the University of Maryland, lead author of the study.

Earlier studies that found an association between abortion and suicidal ideation did not take into account prior mental health status, had small numbers of participants and high dropout rates, or were based on self-reported abortion and suicidal thoughts.

The study included 523,380 Danish women aged 18 to 36 years. Over the entire period (2000-2016), 9% of the participants had at least one abortion in the first trimester, and 2% in the group as a whole had a suicide attempt

The authors considered only data related to non-fatal suicide attempts and first-trimester abortions, not multiple or late abortions. They excluded women under the age of 18 because abortion before that age requires parental or legal guardian consent.

As it turned out, women who had an abortion had similar rates of suicide attempts: 8.9 attempts per 1,000 women per year before the abortion and 8.6 attempts per year after. 5 years after the abortion, the frequency of suicide attempts in this group became comparable to that in the group of women who did not have abortions during the study: 2.2 versus 2.0 per 1000 people.

“Five years after abortion, the unadjusted rate of attempted suicide for the first time falls to the same level as in women who have not had an abortion, contradicting the concept of 'post-abortion syndrome', which involves experiencing the consequences for a long time,” explained Julie Steinberg.

In the year leading up to abortion and the year that followed, the frequency of suicide attempts did increase.But the connection weakened when scientists considered women’s age, birth history, mental and physical health, mental health, and socioeconomic status of their parents. The risk of attempting suicide decreased as the time elapsed after abortion increased.

The strongest risk factors for attempted suicide were previous visits to psychiatric services, antidepressants, tranquilizers and antipsychotic drugs.

“Our results show that when a woman seeks advice and care about an abortion, it is prudent to check for mental health problems to identify existing problems and prevent them in the future,” said Trine Munk-Olsen of Aarhus University, co-author of the study.

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