Suicide and self-harm risk nearly triple in patients with restless legs syndrome


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • Univadis Medical News
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Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is associated with a nearly tripled risk of suicide and self-harm, according to a new research published in JAMA Network Open.

Using big data, researchers from America and China found that people with RLS had a 2.7-fold higher risk of suicide or self-harm, even when controlled for conditions such as depression, insomnia, diabetes and others.

The cohort study examined national claims data from 2006-2008 (baseline) and again six years later (2009-2014) for 24,179 non-pregnant patients with RLS and 145,194 age- and sex-matched controls without RLS, who were free of suicide, self-harm, cardiovascular disease or cancer at study baseline.

Among 169,373 participants in the current analysis, 119 incident suicide and self-harm cases were identified during a mean follow-up of 5.2 years. Individuals with RLS had a higher risk of suicide or self-harm compared to those without RLS, after adjusting for lifestyle factors, presence of chronic diseases and use of medication (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 2.66; 95% CI 1.70-4.15).

Excluding those with depression, insomnia, obstructive sleep apnoea and other common chronic conditions, the significant association between RLS and suicide or self-harm persisted (aHR 4.14; 95% CI 2.17-7.92).