Research Article
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Published Online: 1 December 2016

Suicidal Ideation During the Postpartum Period

Publication: Journal of Women's Health
Volume 25, Issue Number 12


Objective: To examine the association between suicidal ideation (SI), 3 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months postpartum with demographic, psychosocial, clinical factors, and depressive/anxiety symptoms (measured 24–48 hours after delivery), among a cohort of postpartum women.
Methods: This study included 1,073 mothers who gave birth in a large tertiary New York City hospital (2009–2010). Later, self-report SI was assessed using the suicide measure from the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and from the Patient Health Questionnaire.
Results: Two percent of participants presented with SI during the first 6 months postpartum. In bivariate analyses, race/ethnicity, nativity, insurance, and language were significantly correlated with SI 3 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months postpartum. Screening positive for depression (p = 0.0245) and anxiety (0.0454), assessed 1–2 days postpartum, was significantly correlated with later SI in bivariate analyses, as were antepartum complications (p = 0.001), depressive history (0.001), and self-efficacy (0.045). In adjusted models, antepartum complications (OR = 4.681, 95% CI = 1.99–10.99) and depressive history (OR-3.780, 95% CI = 1.514–9.441) were significantly associated with later postpartum SI. Heightened self-efficacy reduced the odds of later SI (p = 0.050).
Conclusion: Findings suggest that SI among a relatively healthy group of new mothers occurs with some frequency. Mothers with a history of depression and antepartum complications may be at increased risk.

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Published In

cover image Journal of Women's Health
Journal of Women's Health
Volume 25Issue Number 12December 2016
Pages: 1219 - 1224
PubMed: 27227751


Published in print: December 2016
Published online: 1 December 2016
Published ahead of print: 26 May 2016


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Susan Bodnar-Deren
Department of Sociology and Institute of Women's Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.
Kimberly Klipstein
Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.
Madeleine Fersh
Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.
Department of Psychiatry, North Shore LIJ, Zucker Hillside Hospital, Glen Oaks, New York.
Eyal Shemesh
Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.
Department of Pediatrics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.
Elizabeth A. Howell
Department of Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.
Population Health Science and Policy, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.


Address correspondence to:Susan Bodnar-Deren, PhDDepartment of Sociology and Institute of Women's HealthVirginia Commonwealth University827 West Franklin StreetRichmond, VA 23284E-mail: [email protected]

Author Disclosure Statement

No competing financial interests exist.

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