Schizophrenia is a chronic disorder that is associated with increased mortality. Although traumatic deaths account for most of this increase, there is also an increased rate of natural deaths in this population. Altered autonomic physiology in this group might contribute to death. To determine if there are schizophrenics in whom, after a complete autopsy, no recognizable cause of death other than schizophrenia is established, the records of the Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York were reviewed for deaths associated with schizophrenia and a natural manner of death. Six such decedents were identified, and their histories and autopsy results are described. We believe that schizophrenia per se is a potentially lethal disorder. Autonomic irregularities and their interactions with psychotropic drugs deserve further attention.
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