Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among pregnant and recently pregnant women, says a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
“We discovered that women who die by perinatal suicide are more likely to do so by violent means and they are less likely to seek mental health services a month before they die,” said Dr. Sophie Grigoriadis, the study’s lead author and the head of the Women’s Mood and Anxiety Clinic at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.
Researchers tracked women in Ontario from 1994 to 2008. They found that five per cent of deaths during pregnancy or the first year after pregnancy were due to suicide.
Dr. Grigoriadis says that shows that mental health in women during pregnancy needs to be monitored closely and for at least a year afterward. The study found that, on average, new mothers who died by suicide did so in the seven months after giving birth.
The goal of the new study was to better understand suicide in these women to develop better ways to prevent tragic deaths, said Dr. Grigoriadis.