Association between migraine and suicidal behavior among Ethiopian adults

A research article written by our MIRT Fellow Bethannie Jamerson-Dowlen (Ethiopia 2016) was recently accepted for publication in BMC Psychiatry. Bethannie’s article examines the association between migraine and suicidal behavior (including suicidal ideation, plan, and attempts) among Ethiopian adults.

A brief abstract of the study “Association between migraine and suicidal behavior among Ethiopian adults” is below.

Background: Despite the significant impact of migraine on patients and societies, few studies in low- and middle income countries (LMICs) have investigated the association between migraine and suicidal behavior. The objective of our study is to examine the extent to which migraines are associated with suicidal behavior (including suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts) in a well-characterized study of urban dwelling Ethiopian adults.

Methods: We enrolled 1060 outpatient adults attending St. Paul hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Standardized questionnaires were used to collect data on socio-demographics, and lifestyle characteristics. Migraine classification was based on the International Classification of Headache Disorders-2 diagnostic criteria. The Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) was used to assess depression and suicidal behaviors (i.e. ideation, plans and attempts). Multivariable logistic regression models were used to estimate adjusted odds ratio (AOR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs).

Results: The prevalence of suicidal behavior was 15.1%, with a higher suicidal behavior among those who had migraines (61.9%). After adjusting for confounders including substance use and socio-demographic factors, migraine was associated with a 2.7-fold increased odds of suicidal behavior (AOR = 2.7; 95% CI 1.88–3.89). When stratified by their history of depression in the past year, migraine without depression was significantly associated with suicidal behavior (AOR: 2.27, 95% Cl: 1.49–3.46). The odds of suicidal behavior did not reach statistical significance in migraineurs with depression (AOR: 1.64, 95% CI: 0.40–6.69).

Conclusion: Our study indicates that migraine is associated with increased odds of suicidal behavior in this population. Given the serious public health implications this has, attention should be given to the treatment and management of migraine at a community level.

Berhane HY, Jamerson-Dowlen B, Friedman LE, Berhane Y, Williams MA, Gelaye B. Association between migraine and suicidal behavior among Ethiopian adults. BMC Psychiatry 2018;18:46. Pubmed PMID: 29433452.