Possible risk factors for increased suicide following bariatric surgery

James E. Mitchell*, Ross Crosby, Martina De Zwaan, Scott Engel, James Roerig, Kristine Steffen, Kathryn H. Gordon, Trisha Karr, Jason Lavender, Steve Wonderlich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


Objective: There is a growing research literature suggesting that there may be elevated risk of suicide following bariatric surgery. Most of the data reported thus far has been cross-sectional and observational, and very little is known about the possible specific causal variables involved. Design and Methods: The purpose of this report is to review this literature and to review possible risk factors for increased suicidal risk following bariatric surgery, to delineate future research directions. Results: First a variety of medical, biological, and genetic factors, including the persistence or recurrence of medical comorbidities after bariatric surgery, the disinhibition and impulsivity secondary to changes in the absorption of alcohol, hypoglycemia, as well as pharmacokinetic changes that may affect the absorption of various medications including antidepressant medications are reviewed. Also reviewed are possible mediating factors involving changes in various peptidergic systems such as GLP-1 and Ghrelin. A number of psychosocial issues that might be involved are discussed, including lack of improvement in quality of life after surgery, continued or recurrent physical mobility restrictions, persistence or recurrence of sexual dysfunction and relationship problems, low self-esteem, and a history of child maltreatment. Inadequate weight loss or weight regain are also discussed. Conclusions: A number of possible contributing factors have been identified. Possible theoretical models involved and directions for research are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-672
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


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