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BACKGROUND: Previous research indicates an association of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) with suicidal thoughts and behaviours, but has largely relied on small cohorts drawn from specialist clinics. METHODS: Anonymised health-records from the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust between 2007 and 2019 were systematically searched using the Clinical Record Interactive Search data system. RESULTS: 298 patients diagnosed with BDD between age 12 and 65 years were identified. 206 (69 %) had experienced lifetime suicidal ideation. 149 (50 %) had recorded lifetime acts of self-harm or suicide attempts, most commonly involving cutting and self-poisoning. Rates of self-harm/suicide attempts were similar in those diagnosed before or after 18 years. Comorbid depression was associated with suicidal ideation (OR: 4.26 95%CI 2.07-9.72). Additionally, comorbid depression, OCD and anxiety were all associated with self-harm/suicide attempts (OR: 1.94 95%CI 1.15-3.31, OR: 1.99 95%CI 1.09-3.73, and OR: 1.93 95%CI 1.09-3.45, respectively). The presence of two or more psychiatric comorbidities was associated with a significantly elevated likelihood of suicidal ideation (OR: 7.06 95%CI 2.80-21.7) and self-harm/suicide attempts (OR: 4.62 95%CI 2.32-9.62). LIMITATIONS: It is likely that BDD was under-diagnosed in the cohort, and those identified may not be representative. Additionally, the frequency and detail with which suicidal thoughts and behaviours were assessed varied and may also represent underestimates. CONCLUSIONS: Suicidal ideation and self-harm/suicide attempts are common among individuals with BDD accessing mental health services. Psychiatric comorbidity and suicidal ideation should be assessed in all BDD patients.

Original publication




Journal article


J Affect Disord

Publication Date



Body dysmorphia, Body dysmorphic disorder, Self-harm, Suicidal ideation, Suicidality