Accounts of suicidality in the Huntington Disease community.

Health professionals, researchers, and philosophers have debated extensively about suicide. Some believe suicides result from mental pathology, whereas others argue that individuals are capable of rational suicide. This debate is particularly poignant within illness communities, where individuals may be suffering from chronic and incurable conditions. This article engages with these issues by presenting the accounts […]

Early Dementia Diagnosis and the Risk of Suicide and Euthanasia

The authors performed a selective literature review of suicide in persons with dementia & the ethical issues associated with euthanasia in this population. In the absence of any effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, there is already evidence that persons with mild cognitive change & early dementia are at risk of […]

Psychiatric and Cognitive Difficulties as Indicators of Juvenile Huntington Disease Onset in 29 Patients

A retrospective clinical & genetic review was done to evaluate the diagnosis delay in patients with juvenile Huntington’s Disease. 29 French patients with onset before or at age 20 were studied. The mean delay before diagnosis was 9 years (standard deviation +6/-6). The most remarkable signs at onset were severe psychiatric & cognitive disturbances. 7 […]

Depression and Stages of Huntington’s Disease

Individuals with manifest Huntington’s disease were interviewed with regard to the presence, frequency, & severity of depression symptoms to better characterize depressed mood across the disease course. Rates of depression were more than twice those found in the general population. One-half of subjects reported they had sought treatment for depression, & more than 10% reported […]

Critical Periods of Suicide Risk in Huntington’s Disease


Psychopathological changes preceding motor symptoms in Huntingdon’s disease: A report on four cases

Neurodegenerative disorders ofren exhibit “classical” psychiatric symptoms as an initial presentation of the disease. Here we present four patients with different psychopathological abnormalities who were later diagnosed as having Huntington’s disease.  The range of symptoms covered affective and psychotic symptoms, antisocial behavior, cognitive problems reminiscent of dementia and suicidal idealisation. The pattern of progress of […]

Suicide Influences and Factors: Physical Illness (IN: Macmillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying, vol.2: L-Z, ed. by R Kastenbaum)


Should a Suicidal Patient With Huntington’s Disease be Hospitalized Against her Will? Attitudes Among Future Physicians and Lawyers and Discussion of Ethical Issues

For commentary on this article, please see SIEC #2004-1147

Commentary on Elger and Harding: can Suicidality be Rational in Persons who are not Terminally ill?

For the original article by B Elger and T Harding, please see SIEC #2004-0969

Neurologic Disorders Raise Overall Suicide Risk

This article summarizes the speakers of the annual meeting of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine in 2000. These speakers state that most neurologic disorders increase overall suicidality, but the risk to each patient must be understood in terms of specific psychosocial factors as well as the shifts in risk that occur in the course of […]

Psychopathology in Huntington’s Disease Patients

A retrospective study of 30 Huntington’s disease families (110 patients: 75 alive & 35 dead) showed the minimum lifetime prevalence of depression to be 39% in the prodrome & the diagnosed disease phase of the illness. The frequency of symptomatic schizophrenias was found to be about 9% & significant personality changes were found in 72% […]

Suicide and Terminal Illness (IN: Treatment of Suicidal People, ed. by A. A. Leenaars et al)

Marzuk begins this chapter by discussing some methodological issues related to terminal illness & suicide. The epidemiology of suicide among the terminally ill is then reviewed. The next section of this chapter discusses the clinical assessment & management of suicide risk among terminally ill patients. Finally, the roles of serologic testing (which predicts the likelihood […]

Psychosocial Impact of Huntington’s Disease on Hong Kong Chinese Families

28 asymptomatic relatives from 7 Chinese families with Huntington’s Disease received psychosocial assessment. One-quarter of the subjects would contemplate suicide if their predictive testing indicated a high risk of having the disease. This suicidal risk was associated with a Present State Examination diagnosis of depression & a stress-coping repertoire with a high proportion of avoidance […]

Suicide and Patients With Neurologic Diseases

Studies examining the suicide risk in patients with neurologic diseases are often encumbered with methodologic problems. The authors conducted a literature review of published reports on the most common neurologic diseases & noted 5 methodologic problems. An increased suicide risk was found in multiple sclerosis patients & selected groups of epilepsy patients. In other neurologic […]

Terminal Illness and Risk of Suicide

This letter to the editor discusses the report by Cote et. al. (“JAMA”. 1992; 268; 2066-2068), regarding their reported 7.4 times higher risk of suicide for men with AIDS.

Suicide Risk in Huntington’s Disease

2793 subjects registered with the National Huntington’s Disease Research Roster were studied in order to evaluate the relevance of suicide risk in families affected by Huntington’s disease. Suicide was the reported cause of death in 205 subjects. This group included affected & possibly affected subjects, subjects at 50% & 25% risk, possibly at risk subjects […]

Risk Factors for Suicide in Huntingtons Disease: a Retrospective Case Controlled Study

Eleven instances of suicide in Huntington’s disease families were reviewed to determine what clinical and social characteristics might alert health professionals to increased suicide potential. The single most important risk factor for suicide in HD was having no offspring. Recognition of risk factors should allow health care providers to assist families coping with HD and […]

Suicide and Disease

This article presents a review of research studies examining psychiatric & medical diseases. Evidence is presented for medical illnesses with high & average suicide risk as well as general physical illnesses. While patients with serious illnesses generally show a high risk of suicide & a higher percentage of deaths from suicide, these studies often involve […]

The Effect of Paternal Huntington’s Disease on Male Adolescence

This article examines the effects of paternal Huntington’s disease upon male adolescents. The father’s influence on male adolescent identity formation, the effect of the loss of the father, the relationships between sons & unaffected mothers, individual psychopathology & intervention are all discussed. Two case examples are presented as illustration. In each case, the adolescent involved […]

Predictive Testing for Huntington Disease in Canada: the Experience of Those Receiving an Increased Risk

Of all the people in Canada who have been tested for Huntington’s disease, 66 have received an increased risk result. The authors describe in detail the experience of 4 such people. Only a few candidates have expressed regret at taking the test & no person receiving an increased risk result has made a suicide attempt […]

Medical Illness and Suicide (IN: Suicide Over the Life Cycle, ed. by S J Blumenthal and D J Kupfer)

This article reviews studies which explore the link between physical illness & suicide. Results of studies are included for AIDS, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, head injuries, Huntington’s Chorea, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, peptic ulcers, premenstrual syndrome, pulmonary disease, arthritis, & spinal cord injuries, as well as for hospital patients & people undergoing medical procedures. Rational suicide is […]

Somatosensory Phenomena in Huntington’s Disease

Sensory symptoms are generally not associated with Huntington’s disease. The authors describe two patients with Huntinton’s who had painful somatosensory symptoms; one also had auditory hallucinations. No other cause could be found for these symptoms. Both patients also suffered from significant depression & one of the patients committed suicide. The authors thus recommend that Huntington’s […]

Huntington’s Disease: the Prototype for Late Onset Terminal Genetic Disorders