Suicidality in individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome: a review of registry survey data

Academic Article


  • Introduction: Prader–Willi syndrome (PWS) is a rare, genetic, neurodevelopmental syndrome associated with hyperphagia and early onset obesity, growth and sex hormone insufficiencies, mild-to-moderate intellectual disability, and behavioral challenges such as compulsivity, anxiety, skin picking, social skills deficits and temper outbursts. Given high rates of psychiatric comorbidity and potential risk factors for suicide in PWS, this study sought a first estimate of the prevalence of suicidal ideation (SI) and attempts (SA) in the PWS population and any characteristics associated with suicidality in this population. Methods: Using the Global Prader-Willi Syndrome Registry, we included all participants who had answered a question about SI. We examined the most recent data from the surveys about social, economic, and demographic factors, genetic subtype, and psychiatric symptoms and treatments. A chi-square analysis was used to compare registry participants who reported SI to those without reported SI. Results: From 750 included survey respondents, 94 (12.5%) endorsed some history of SI. Of these, 25 (26.6%) also reported a history of SA, with an average age of 16.25 years at their first attempt. Those with a history of SI were predominantly male and adult age, and had higher rates of aggression and psychiatric comorbidities, therapies, and medications. Conclusions: This study indicates that the rate of SI and SA in PWS is comparable to the general population, and that suicide attempts in PWS typically begin in middle-teenage years. Despite unique challenges, individuals with PWS and their caregivers should be included in screens and psychoeducation for suicide and mental health concerns.
  • Published In

  • BMC Psychiatry  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Peleggi A; Bohonowych J; Strong TV; Schwartz L; Kim SJ
  • Volume

  • 21
  • Issue

  • 1