Rate of Suicide Increases after Gastric Bypass Surgery

The Archives of Surgery has published in the 2007 October issue the following article: “Death Rates and Causes of Death After Bariatric Surgery for Pennsylvania Residents, 1995 to 2004″. They examined the results of 16,683 patients and found that there were 16 confirmed suicides (4%) and 14 drug overdoses (3%) that were not attributed to suicide. To put that in perspective, the The US Vital Statistics rates of death due to suicide
for white women are approximately 7 per 100,000 and for white men are 25 per 100,000 among the population for a comparable age range. These are alarming numbers. Here is a direct comment from their paper:

“It is very likely that suicide deaths were also underestimated because some of the deaths were listed as drug overdoses rather than suicide on the death certificate. The large number of deaths due to suicide and drug overdose, in excess of what we expected, is also a cause for concern.”

In another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, “Long-Term Mortality after Gastric Bypass Surgery” they followed the outcomes of 9,949 patients and even though mortality from health related problems had declined. This study showed 21 documented suicides (7.29%), 25 other non-disease caused and 15 poisoning of undetermined intent. Even though the authors of this study did recognize the extraordinary increase in suicide, the conclusion drawn was that it was psychological, and related to unresolved psychological trauma.

Two studies strongly indicate that after gastric bypass surgery, the rate of suicide is significantly higher than in the control group. And as I’ve posted earlier there are studies that show this surgery is also capable of causing malnutrition from the malabsorption. I wish they had indicated in the suicide group what type of surgery that had, whether it was the Lap-Band or a bypass type of surgery. I think once they start breaking this out, it will become obvious that it is not the psychological issue they claim.

There appears to be the assumption that obese and morbidly obese and therefore people who have chosen to have WLS have higher instances of mental illnesses than the general population.   Is there the data to actually support that?

If you want to read the study yourself you can at:
http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa066603
http://archsurg.ama-assn.org/cgi/reprint/142/10/923

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I rewrote some of this blog based on feedback from this forum . I will always welcome well intentioned criticism and critique and am open to learning as much as I can on a subject where there is so much yet to learn. After re-reading the blog entry, I did agree that parts were poorly written and did not reflect what I was trying to convey. It did appear that I was saying gastric bypass surgery caused suicide. That was and is not my contention. I recognize that human behavior is incredibly complex. When there are two separte studies both showing a marked increase in suicide, I believe it would be irresponsible of the medical community to simply ignore it. I do believe this calls for further investigation to see if the malabsortion component could have played a part, and if so, what, or aggravated a prior condition. Or perhaps it calls for the current recommended post-operative care modality to be re-examined? Whatever the findings call for.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Rate of Suicide Increases after Gastric Bypass Surgery

  1. You are trying to put a causation to this study. This study does not prove that gastric bypass CAUSES suicide. You are taking a non-logical jump. The study links as association. You need to remember that mental health issues and obesity can and do go hand-in-hand. More needs to be looked at than just links in order to prove the cause. It is clear that you are somewhat biased in this respect to make that jump to conclusion.

    • My daughter died August 31, 2010 hung herself could not do the side effects and lack of nutrition absorbtion causing depression severly could not hold food down and began drinking. She was 40 and had two little girls.
      Needed blood tranfusions due to low hemoglobien at different periods of time she was in her eighth year past surgery, and beautiful, smart talented, extremely artistic. She also suffered severe anxiety. Went to rehab did wonderful 9 months later and all kind of medications given doctors just couldn’t seem to help. She gave up. I am sure there are thousand like her we just don’t know it.

      • Monica

        My husband hung himself 2/21/13. He had the surgery 7/1/10. He transferred his addiction to alcohol. He left 3 teens with a grandbaby on the way. We all agreed 6 months into the surgery that it was the worst thing he ever did. It ruined our family.

  2. Jason

    My wife (25years young) died from purposely over dosing on her medications 2 years ago. This just a month after my uncle shot himself due to chronic stomach pain. I was not totally for the surgery to begin with for the very reason of the psychological effects. Doctors said it was due to malabsorbtion of her psych-meds. I believe there is much more to it. I am so sorry to all those that have survived the loss of a loved one in this manner (or any manner), I feel your pain. The things that helped me was: the Bible, research, people around me, & my pets. Through these I found love, trust, comfort, & understanding. My hope is that you learn to see your life as (or more) amazingly beautiful as I see it.

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