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Suicide risk from pregnancy warning

Nurses need to monitor the mental health issues associated with pregnancy and childbirth to stop any more mothers committing suicide, a conference has heard.

The warning comes after a study found 129 women in the UK took their own lives while pregnant, or in the first year of their child's life, between 1985 and 2002.

Researchers from the University of Ulster said services have to be improved for pregnant women and new mothers to halt any more deaths.

The study found that all the women who killed themselves were over the age of 19, and 68% suffered violent suicides.

Half of the suicides up to 1999 and 66% from 2000 had been treated by their GP or psychiatrist for a mental health issue, with 70% having a probable psychiatric illness at time of their death.

Academic Iain McGowan, a lecturer in nursing, said: "Pregnancy and parenting are generally seen to be fulfilling and rewarding.

"However, the reality for a number of women is that the physical, emotional and social upheaval of having children can leave them vulnerable to social isolation, loneliness, and perhaps hopelessness.

"All of which can lead to mental health problems and, in extreme cases, possible attempts on their own life."

The claim was made at the International Congress for Suicide Prevention in Killarney, in the Republic of Ireland.

University of Ulster

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