Suicide and Abortion: One Country’s Experience

Professor Mika Gissler and colleagues studied the risk of suicide among women of childbearing age (15-49) in Finland to learn how the incidence of suicide differs among three groups of women: those who had given birth, those who had miscarried, and those who had aborted their child in the 12 months before their death. The authors concluded:

“Our data clearly show, however, that women who have experienced an abortion have an increased risk of suicide.”

The annual suicide rate from 1987-1994 per 100,000 women in Finland, age 15-49 was:

All women in the general population:

Women who had given birth in prior 12 mos:

Women who had a miscarriage in prior 12 mos:

Women who had an abortion in prior 12 mos:


11.3

5.9

18.1

34.7

 
The suicide rate associated with birth was almost half the rate of the general population. “This suggests that childbearing prevents suicide or that women capable of giving birth are not at high risk for suicide.”

The suicide rate associated with induced abortion was over three times higher than in the general population and almost six times higher than among women who gave birth.

“Similarly, the rate of psychiatric admissions within three months after the end of pregnancy was 53% higher in women who delivered than in women who had had an induced abortion in a Danish register study.”

Mika Gissler et al. Suicides after pregnancy in Finland, 1987–94: register linkage study. 1996. British Medical Journal 313: 1431. http://www.bmj.com/content/313/7070/1431.full.