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OBJECTIVE: To compare risks for suicidality and criminality in a national cohort of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and to assess how risk factor profiles differ between these outcomes. METHOD: We conducted 2 case-cohort studies using interlinked Swedish national registers. Primarily, using International Classification of Diseases (ICD) coding, we identified 15,337 people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, 1973-2009, matched by age and gender to 20 individuals per case sampled randomly from the general population. We estimated risks of suicide and hospital-presenting attempted suicide, and violent and nonviolent criminal offending. We separately assessed these risks among 14,677 unaffected siblings matched to a second general population sample. RESULTS: 22.2% of bipolar disorder cohort members engaged in suicidal or criminal acts after diagnosis. They were at greatly elevated risk for completed suicide (risk ratio = 18.8; 95% CI, 16.0-22.2), attempted suicide (risk ratio = 14.3; 95% CI, 13.5-15.2), violent crime (risk ratio = 5.0; 95% CI, 4.6-5.4), and nonviolent crime (risk ratio = 2.9; 95% CI, 2.8-3.1) compared with the general population. Elevations in risk were far less marked among the unaffected siblings than in the bipolar disorder cohort. Three factors independently predicted raised risk of all 4 adverse outcomes: if the first 2 patient episodes for bipolar disorder required admission, a history of attempted suicide, and a history of diagnosed alcohol/drug disorder. Criminal offending before bipolar diagnosis was an especially strong independent predictor of criminality after diagnosis. CONCLUSIONS: The combined risk of suicidality or criminality is substantially elevated in both relative and absolute terms. Clinical prediction rules focusing on multiple vulnerabilities following onset of bipolar disorder, especially when there is history of attempted suicide, substance misuse disorders, or criminal offending, may improve risk management.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Psychiatry

Publication Date





e809 - e816


Adolescent, Adult, Bipolar Disorder, Case-Control Studies, Criminals, Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry), Female, Hospitalization, Humans, Male, Odds Ratio, Registries, Risk Factors, Siblings, Substance-Related Disorders, Suicide, Suicide, Attempted, Violence, Young Adult