Suicide rates are higher in people with epilepsy compared to the general population, according to results published in the journal Epilepsy and Behaviour. Suicide prevention measures should therefore be put in place to prevent such deaths.Rosemarie Kobau, one of the authors of the study, commented: “Caregivers of people with epilepsy and other members of the public can participate in programs such as Mental Health First Aid, an evidence-based program available in many U.S. communities that teaches people about mental illness symptoms, and how to recognize and intervene during a mental health crisis.”The programme also exists in England, and more information about it can be found on the Mental Health First Aid England webpage.During the study, scientists from the US Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) used data collected over eight years, between 2003 and 2011, to determine how often and in what circumstances suicide occurs in people with epilepsy.They found that an average of 17 out of 100,000 people with epilepsy, aged 10 years and older, died from suicide each year during the study period, compared to 14 out of 100,000 in the general population.The team then focused on people aged 40-49 years, and discovered that the suicide rates were 29% amongst those with epilepsy and 22% in the general population.Looking at the relationships between suicide rate and a) race/ethnicity, b) education and c) marital status, there were no significant differences between the epilepsy and general population ‘groups’. In both, approximately one-third of suicides were committed by people with the lowest level of education.When the researchers examined the locations in which the suicides occurred most, they found that 81% of people with epilepsy committed suicide in residential settings, compared to 76% of people without epilepsy.This result suggests that it may be beneficial that caregivers, relatives, and others living with people with epilepsy to assess the availability of potentially harmful materials in the home to reduce the risk of suicide.According to Samaritans, there were more than 6.500 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland in 2014. It is thought that there might be a link between epilepsy, psychiatric disorders and suicide.If you feel that you, or someone you know is at risk of suicide, you can contact Samaritans any time, from any phone, on 116 123.Author: Dr Özge ÖzkayaClick here to read more stories about living with epilepsy.