About 8 percent of stroke survivors reported such thoughts, compared to 6 percent of heart attack survivors, 5 percent of those with diabetes and 4 percent with cancer.
Suicidal thoughts were more likely in people who scored high on depression tests, were younger, overweight, less educated, poor, female or unmarried.
Depression may develop partly because strokes damage the very thing that controls mood — the brain, said a neurologist with no role in the study, Dr. Brian Silver of Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital.
"It's not necessarily the reaction to the disease ... it's also the disease itself that is causing the depression," by releasing harmful chemicals that can trigger it, he said.
Suicidal thinking is a well-known problem, but this study "puts a number on it" and shows the need to watch for and treat it, Silver said.
Stroke conference: www.strokeassociation.org
Marilynn Marchione can be followed at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP