Scientific Letter

Suicide attempts during pregnancy in South Africa

Naseema B.M. Vawda
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 24 | a1154 | DOI: | © 2018 Naseema B.M. Vawda | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 July 2017 | Published: 16 April 2018

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Background: Research on suicide attempts during pregnancy is limited as these are considered to be rare in the perinatal period.

Aim: A retrospective pilot study was undertaken to establish what percentage of suicide attempters admitted to a hospital were pregnant and to identify their clinical and sociodemographic characteristics.

Setting: The study was conducted at a tertiary hospital in Durban, South Africa.

Methods: A retrospective chart review was undertaken of all female patients admitted following suicide attempts over a period of 1 year. Clinical and sociodemographic data of pregnant suicide attempters were extracted.

Results: Of 27 charts reviewed, 33% (n = 9) patients were pregnant at the time of the attempt. V Code diagnoses predominated, followed by major depressive disorder. Past psychiatric diagnoses and suicide attempts were also present

Conclusion: Suicide attempts during pregnancy are not rare. Pregnant women should be routinely screened for prior suicide attempts, depression and stressors as part of perinatal assessments.


Maternal mental health; interpersonal relationships; stressors; depress


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