Early-stage Alzheimer disease represents increased suicidal risk in relation to later stages

Wee Shiong Lim, Eugene H. Rubin, Mary Coats, John C. Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The level of risk for suicide in individuals with Alzheimer disease (AD) generally is considered to be low. It is important to recognize, however, that suicide can occur in early-stage Alzheimer disease on the background of a distinct high-risk profile. The objective of this report is to describe the clinical profiles of individuals with very mild Alzheimer disease who either attempted or completed suicide. We describe two participants in a longitudinal study of early-stage Alzheimer disease who were in the ninth decade of life and had very mild Alzheimer disease. Consistent with earlier cases reported in the literature, both displayed the following high-risk phenotype predisposing to suicidal risk: male gender, highly educated professional, preserved insight, dysthymic symptoms that did not meet criteria for major depression and postdated the onset of cognitive decline, and suicidal ideation. Neuropathological examination confirmed histologic Alzheimer disease in both cases. These cases, taken together, emphasize the need for awareness that early-stage Alzheimer disease may present a unique suicidal risk compared with later stages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-219
Number of pages6
JournalAlzheimer disease and associated disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Dementia of the Alzheimer type
  • Depression of Alzheimer disease
  • Early-stage dementia
  • Insight
  • Suicide


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