Suicide Risk Increases After Bariatric Surgery

Dr. Junaid A. Bhatti MBBS PhD Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Toronto, Interview with:
Dr. Junaid A. Bhatti MBBS PhD
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Toronto, ON

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Bhatti:  Bariatric surgery remains an important option for morbidly obese patients where other obesity management options fail. It is a safe procedure with mortality risk not higher than any other major procedure of this type. Some studies report that some patients may experience psychological stress following surgery. Studies on the long-term outcomes noted that there was a higher suicide risk in bariatric patients as compared to the general population. It was not clear whether these risks increased following surgery.
In this study, we used the data of bariatric patients from Ontario who underwent surgery between 2006 and 2011. We assessed their emergency room visits three years before and three years following surgery. We looked into whether these patients had significantly more visits related to suicide attempts before compared to post surgery period. Overall, about 111 patients (1%) of the cohort had suicide attempts during follow-up. What we saw is that suicide risk increased by 50% following surgery than before surgery period. The risks were higher, but not significantly higher than others, if they were 35 years or older or from low-income or rural settings. The emergency services utilization of suicide attempts following surgery was more intense for the visits before surgery.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Bhatti:  Clinicians and bariatric programs may need to have some interventions in their program where they can offer mental health support to patients if they need them.
Patients should be aware of these risks/side effects, so that they are aware and better prepared to contact physicians if indicated.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Bhatti:  This study adds to the literature that suicide risk may increase following bariatric surgery. Other studies would be needed to assess long-term mental health consequences of the surgery and what interventions may be useful to address such problems.


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Dr. Junaid A. Bhatti MBBS PhD (2015). Suicide Risk Increases After Bariatric Surgery

Last Updated on October 8, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD