Suicide Screening in Sturge-Weber Syndrome: An Important Issue in Need of Further Study

Alison J. Sebold, Amelia S. Ahmed, Taylor C. Ryan, Bernard A. Cohen, Henry D. Jampel, Stacy J. Suskauer, T. Andrew Zabel, Anne M. Comi, Suzanne Rybczynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Sturge-Weber syndrome is a neurocutaneous disorder associated with epilepsy, glaucoma, cognitive impairments, and a port-wine birthmark. Although individuals with Sturge-Weber syndrome are vulnerable to known risk factors for suicide, including chronic illness and physical differences (port-wine birthmark), frequency of suicidal ideation and attempts, and the clinical factors associated with suicide risk, in patients with Sturge-Weber syndrome is unknown. Methods: As a part of routine hospital practice, all outpatients aged eight years and older underwent suicide risk screening during nursing triage using a standardized suicide screening tool. Suicide risk screening results, demographic variables, and medical history (as available) for patients with Sturge-Weber syndrome (N = 34; median age = 15.5; range = 8 to 47 years, 44% male) and other neurological conditions seen at the same institution (N = 369; median age = 14; range = 8 to 78 years, 66% male) were used for retrospective within- and between-group analysis. Results: In the combined sample of Sturge-Weber syndrome and neurologically involved patients, a positive suicide risk screen was related to Sturge-Weber syndrome diagnosis (P = 0.043); analysis by sex showed increased risk of Sturge-Weber syndrome diagnosis in males (P = 0.008), but not in females. Within the Sturge-Weber syndrome group, use of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (P = 0.019) was related to a positive risk screen. Conclusion: People with Sturge-Weber syndrome may be at greater risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors than those with other neurological conditions. Further study of suicide risk in patients with Sturge-Weber syndrome is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-86
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Neurology
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • ASQ
  • Mental health outcomes
  • SSRI
  • Seizures
  • Sex-related
  • Sturge-Weber syndrome
  • Suicide risk
  • asQ'em

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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