Study Shows Suicide a Common Cause of Death for New Moms

The United States has the worst rate of maternal deaths among developed countries. As a pregnant woman in the United States, you are more likely to die from pregnancy-related problems than in any other developed nation. While many of these maternal deaths are the result of obstetric health issues, a new study finds that a significant number of new mothers die by suicide within a year after the birth of their child.


The study out of Michigan State University and the University of California tracked one million California moms for a year after their child was born. Three hundred of the women in the study died during that time. While obstetric issues were the number one cause of death, drug overdose and suicide factored significantly in causes of death. Drug overdoses were the second leading cause of death, and suicide was the seventh.

This study reflects that drug addiction and mental health issues among new mothers must be addressed. Many new moms feel helpless and alone after giving birth and may be afraid to seek help for their addiction or mental health issues. Postpartum depression and anxiety are common, and physicians in this country must do a better job of screening new moms for these conditions.

Treatment for postpartum mental health issues should continue beyond the first few months after giving birth. Most insurance plans cover a six-week postpartum checkup, but beyond that point, moms are on their own. According to the study, the majority of deaths occurred more than six months after the moms had given birth.

Fear of seeking help is another major factor in why women are suffering from addiction and mental health issues. Many women fear that if they admit that their mental health is suffering, then their child will be taken away from them. This keeps many women from seeking the help they need. We need to provide new moms with better supports and help to prevent them from suffering and to help reduce the overall maternal mortality rate in this country.

If you or a loved one has a mental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental disabilities. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.

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