Frequency of suicidal ideation and associated clinical features in Lewy body dementia.



Neuropsychiatric disturbance is common in individuals with Lewy body dementia (LBD). Despite this, there is minimal research regarding suicide risks in this population.


This study was a retrospective review of a prospectively-collected database at a tertiary movement disorders clinic. Database participants with an LBD diagnosis at their most recent visit and at least one complete Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) were included. Additional measures included demographics and measures of cognition, psychiatric symptoms, motor function, and the Parkinson Disease Questionnaire-39. The frequency of suicidal ideation was assessed using question 9 of the BDI-II. Features associated with a BDI-II score greater than zero were assessed using logistic regression.


The database included 95 individuals with LBD and at least one BDI-II (visit years 2010-2020). Most participants were older men who identified as white. Eighteen individuals (18.9%; 95% CI 12.3%-28.0%) reported thoughts of killing themselves without an intent to carry them out (BDI-II = 1). No participants reported a desire or plan to kill themselves. The presence of SI was associated with measures of depression, anxiety, and emotional well-being, but not with demographics, measures of disease severity, or other psychiatric concerns.


These findings emphasize the importance of routine screening for psychiatric symptoms in LBD and intervention when such concerns are identified. Interventions could include pharmacologic (e.g. depression treatment) and non-pharmacologic (e.g. firearm screening) approaches. More research is needed to assess suicidal ideation and suicide risks in large and more diverse LBD populations. Prospective studies should include measures of additional potential contributors to suicidality.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Armstrong, Melissa J, Kathryn Moore, Charles E Jacobson, Noheli Bedenfield, Bhavana Patel and Jennifer L Sullivan (2021). Frequency of suicidal ideation and associated clinical features in Lewy body dementia. Parkinsonism & related disorders, 90. pp. 33–37. 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2021.07.029 Retrieved from

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