Almost 50% of schizophrenic persons attempt suicide at some time in their lives and 9-13% of patients ultimately commit suicide. While numerous studies have elucidated the relationship between psychiatric symptomatology and neurocognition in patients with schizophrenia, this is the first report, to our knowledge, to investigate the relationship between suicidal behavior and neurocognition in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.
A subgroup of 188 patients participating in the InterSePT trial was assessed at baseline with an extensive neurocognitive battery and measures of suicidality and psychiatric symptomatology.
Measures of suicidality did not significantly correlate with neurocognitive performance. Confirmatory analyses between patients currently judged to be at high and low risk for suicide also revealed no neurocognitive differences. Consistent with previous studies, poor neurocognitive performance tended to be modestly correlated with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Rating Scale (PANSS) negative symptom scale. The relationship between suicidality and neurocognitive performance was similar for schizoaffective and schizophrenic patients.
The findings suggest that suicidality in patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder is not correlated with cognition and may, in fact, be a separate domain worthy of investigation and intervention.