Suicide Risk Among Holocaust Survivors Following Psychiatric Hospitalizations: A Historic Cohort Study

Ido Lurie*, Adi Gur, Ziona Haklai, Nehama Goldberger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The association between Holocaust experience, suicide, and psychiatric hospitalization has not been unequivocally established. The aim of this study was to determine the risk of suicide among 3 Jewish groups with past or current psychiatric hospitalizations: Holocaust survivors (HS), survivors of pre-Holocaust persecution (early HS), and a comparison group of similar European background who did not experience Holocaust persecution. In a retrospective cohort study based on the Israel National Psychiatric Case Register (NPCR) and the database of causes of death, all suicides in the years 1981–2009 were found for HS (n = 16,406), early HS (n = 1,212) and a comparison group (n = 4,286). Age adjusted suicide rates were calculated for the 3 groups and a logistic regression model was built to assess the suicide risk, controlling for demographic and clinical variables. The number of completed suicides in the study period was: HS—233 (1.4%), early HS—34 (2.8%), and the comparison group—64 (1.5%). Age adjusted rates were 106.7 (95% CI 93.0–120.5) per 100,000 person-years for HS, 231.0 (95% CI 157.0–327.9) for early HS and 150.7 (95% CI 113.2–196.6) for comparisons. The regression models showed significantly higher risk for the early HS versus comparisons (multivariate model adjusted OR = 1.68, 95% CI 1.09–2.60), but not for the HS versus comparisons. These results may indicate higher resilience among the survivors of maximal adversity compared to others who experienced lesser persecution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-509
Number of pages14
JournalArchives of Suicide Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2018


  • Holocaust survivors
  • psychiatric hospitalization
  • suicide


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