Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Systemic inflammation and suicide risk: cohort study of 419 527 Korean men and women
  1. G David Batty1,
  2. Keum Ji Jung2,3,
  3. Sunmi Lee4,
  4. Joung Hwan Back4,
  5. Sun Ha Jee2,4,3
  1. 1 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2 Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea
  3. 3 Institute for Health Promotion, Yonsei University, Wonju, South Korea
  4. 4 Health Insurance Policy Research Institute, Wonju, South Korea
  1. Correspondence to Professor Sun Ha Jee, Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea; E.jsunha{at}


Background Data from only one study have been used to examine the relationship between systemic inflammation and later suicide risk, and a strong positive association was apparent. More research is needed, particularly looking at gender, not least because women are seemingly more vulnerable to inflammation-induced mood changes than men.

Methods The Korean Cancer Prevention Study had a cohort of over 1 million individuals aged 30–95 years at baseline examination between 1992 and 1995, when white blood cell count, our marker of systemic inflammation, was assessed.

Results A mean of 16.6 years of mortality surveillance gave rise to 1010 deaths from suicide in 106 643 men, and 1019 deaths from suicide in 312 884 women. There was little evidence of an association between our inflammation marker and suicide mortality in men after multiple adjustments. In women, however, those in the second inflammation quartile and higher experienced around 30% increase risk of death (HR 1.35; 95% CI: 1.11–1.64).

Conclusions Higher levels of systemic inflammation were moderately related to an elevated risk of suicide death in women but not in men.

  • suicide
  • cohort studies
  • epidemiology

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Contributors Study concept and design: GDB. Acquisition and preparation of the data set: SHJ and SL. Statistical analyses: KJJ and JHB. Interpretation of data and drafting of the manuscript: GDB. KJJ, SL, JHB and SHJ had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. All authors read and agreed on the final manuscript as well as the decision to submit for publication.

  • Funding The Korean Cancer Prevention Study was funded by the Korean Seoul City Research and Business Development Program. GDB is supported by the UK Medical Research Council (MR/P023444/1) and the US National Institute on Aging (1R56AG052519-01; 1R01AG052519-01A1).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Detail has been removed from this case description/these case descriptions to ensure anonymity. The editors and reviewers have seen the detailed information available and are satisfied that the information backs up the case the authors are making.

  • Ethics approval The Institutional Review Boards of Yonsei University and the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health approved the study.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it first published online.The open access licence type has been changed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles