Startling results emerged from a recent study comparing the mental health outcomes of individuals undergoing bariatric surgery versus a nonsurgical cohort with severe obesity. The research, spanning data from five healthcare systems, revealed that the rate of suicide attempts after bariatric surgery was 2.2%, a relative risk 64% higher than the nonsurgical cohort.
Karen J. Coleman, PhD, MS, Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson of Medicine (KPSOM) Professor of Health Systems Science Professor, coauthored the study, “Suicide attempts after bariatric surgery: comparison to a nonsurgical cohort of individuals with severe obesity,” published on Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases.
The study, conducted on 35,522 surgical and 691,752 nonsurgical individuals, underscores the importance of recognizing the increased risk of suicide attempts following bariatric procedures. Factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, insurance status, and pre-existing mental health conditions were associated with higher risk within the bariatric surgery group. While the absolute risk remains low, the findings urge healthcare providers to be vigilant and consider post-surgery suicide risk screening to identify and support high-risk individuals.