Aim: Women with a recent induced abortion have a 3-fold risk for suicide, compared to non-pregnant women. The increased risk was recognised in unofficial guidelines (1996) and Current Care Guidelines (2001) on abortion treatment, highlighting the importance of a check-up 2 – 3 weeks after the termination, to monitor for mental health disorders. We studied the suicide trends after induced abortion in 1987 – 2012 in Finland.
Methods: We linked the Register on Induced Abortions (N = 284,751) and Cause-of-Death Register (N = 3798 suicides) to identify women who had committed suicide within 1 year after an induced abortion (N = 79). The abortion rates per 100,000 person-years were calculated for 1987 – 1996 (period with no guidelines), 1997 – 2001 (with unofficial guidelines) and 2002 – 2012 (with Current Care Guidelines).
Results: The suicide rate after induced abortion declined by 24%, from 32.4/100,000 in 1987 – 1996 to 24.3/100,000 in 1997 – 2001 and then 24.8/100,000 in 2002 – 2012. The age-adjusted suicide rate among women aged 15 – 49 decreased by 13%; from 11.4/100,000 to 10.4/100,000 and 9.9/100,000, respectively. After induced abortions, the suicide rate increased by 30% among teenagers (to 25/100,000), stagnated for women aged 20 – 24 (at 32/100,000), but decreased by 43% (to 21/100,000) for women aged 25 – 49.
Conclusions: The excess risk for suicide after induced abortion decreased, but the change was not statistically significant. Women with a recent induced abortion still have a 2-fold suicide risk. A mandatory check-up may decrease this risk. The causes for the increased suicide risk, including mental health prior to pregnancy and the social circumstances, should be investigated further.
I really wish we had better stats in Canada so that we could properly study this phenomenon.
I wonder if there's a difference between the use of surgical abortion and chemical abortion, whether the experience of abortion contributes to mental health issues, or the abortion itself (i.e. the existential fact that you killed your baby/ended a pregnancy) contributes to it.