Purpose of Review
Suicide is a leading cause of death in the perinatal period (pregnancy and 1 year postpartum). We review recent findings on prevalence, risk factors, outcomes, and prevention and intervention for suicide during pregnancy and the first year postpartum.
Standardization of definitions and ascertainment of maternal deaths have improved identification of perinatal deaths by suicide and risk factors for perinatal suicide. Reports of a protective effect of pregnancy and postpartum on suicide risk may be inflated. Clinicians must be vigilant for risk of suicide among their perinatal patients, especially those with mental health diagnoses or prior suicide attempts.
Pregnancy and the year postpartum are a time of increased access to healthcare for many, offering many opportunities to identify and intervene for suicide risk. Universal screening for suicide as part of assessment of depression and anxiety along with improved access to mental health treatments can reduce risk of perinatal suicide.