People diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) are six times more likely to kill themselves than members of the general population, a study has found.

Scientists analysed the medical records of more than 2,000 patients diagnosed with the debilitating disorder.

Over a seven-year period, 17 patients died - eight from cancer, five from suicide and four from other causes.

The results showed no significant difference in overall death rates from any cause between CFS sufferers and the general population - nor were chronic fatigue patients more likely to die from cancer.

But the CFS patients' suicide rate was six times higher than would normally be expected.

Dr Emmert Roberts, one of the study authors from King's College London and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: "This is the first study to demonstrate that there might be an increased risk of suicide in people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

"Although the risk of a person with CFS dying by suicide is small, it is still greater than we see in the general population - and so patients, their families, and their physicians need to be aware of this."

The findings are published in The Lancet medical journal.