The unfortunate answer is yes. Between 10 and 20 percent of people with bipolar disorder will end their lives by suicide (some reports put this figure much higher, at 40 to 50 percent). Slightly less than 1 percent of people with bipolar disorder will commit suicide each year, or thirty to sixty times the rate of suicide in the general population.
Contrary to the popular belief that people who ‘really intend to kill themselves don’t talk about it, they just do it’ research has shown that the vast majority do in fact tell someone in the weeks preceding their suicide. Additionally, it’s well documented that between 80 and 90 percent of people who commit suicide have had some contact with a healthcare provider in the month prior to their death.
Times of greatest risk for suicide are when people are in a depressed or mixed episode. There is also greater risk for suicide early on in the illness, the first year after being diagnosed in particular.
It is critical, and potentially life saving, to remember that suicidal thinking, or any verbalization or visible behavior that indicates someone is thinking of suicide is a medical emergency that needs immediate attention.