Suicide: Risk Factors

 

Research has found that about 90% of individuals who die by suicide experience mental illness. But mental illness is only one of the risk factors associated with suicide. There are a number of other things, all important to recognize, that may put a person at risk of suicide.

The following list is not comprehensive, meaning it is not necessarily a list of “all” possible risk factors. Nor is it a list of necessary conditions. A person may have just one or two of the following risk factors, or none, and still be at risk. But based on what is known, the following list does include some of the things that may put a person at risk:

  • A family history of suicide.
  • Substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that exacerbate suicidal thoughts.
  • Intoxication. More than one in three people who die from suicide are found to be currently under the influence.
  • Access to firearms.
  • A serious or chronic medical illness.
  • Gender. Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are four times more likely to die by suicide.
  • A history of trauma or abuse.
  • Prolonged stress.
  • Isolation.
  • Age. People under age 24 or above age 65 are at a higher risk for suicide.
  • A recent tragedy or loss.
  • Agitation and sleep deprivation.

Get more information at the NAMI National Web Site.

Suicide: Is There Imminent Danger

Any person exhibiting these behaviors should get care immediately:

  • Putting their affairs in order and giving away their possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Mood shifts from despair to calm
  • Planning, possibly by looking around to buy, steal or borrow the tools they need to commit suicide, such as a firearm or prescription medication

If you are unsure, a licensed mental health professional can help assess risk.

See more at the NAMI National Site.

Suicide: Know the Warning Signs

suicide signs Dollarphotoclub_79868445Each year more than 34,000 individuals take their own life, leaving behind thousands of friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of their loss.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the U.S. and the 3rd leading cause of death among adolescents.

Suicidal thoughts or behaviors are both damaging and dangerous and are therefore considered a psychiatric emergency. Someone experiencing these thoughts should seek immediate assistance from a health or mental health care provider.Having suicidal thoughts does not mean someone is weak or flawed.

Following are Seven Warning Signs

  • Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more overt and dangerous
  • Increased alcohol and drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Talking, writing or thinking about death
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior

See more at the NAMI National Site.

Suicide: Can Thoughts of Suicide Be Prevented?

Mental health professionals are trained to help a person understand their feelings and can improve mental wellness and resiliency.

Depending on their training they can provide effective ways to help.

Psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, can help a person with thoughts of suicide recognize unhealthy patterns of thinking and behavior, validate troubling feelings, and learn coping skills.

Medication can be used if necessary to treat underlying depression and anxiety and can lower a person’s risk of hurting themselves. Depending on the person’s mental health diagnosis, other medications can be used to alleviate symptoms.

Click here to see more at the National NAMI Site

Reducing the Risk of Suicide in Individuals with BPD

NAMI is pleased to announce that Dr. Marsha Linehan will be one of the outstanding speakers who will join 2,000 NAMI members at the 2015 NAMI National Convention in San Francisco this July. Scheduled to speak on Monday, July 6 in the “Advancing Recovery” track, Dr. Linehan will share her latest research on dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), including the results of her latest study. In this study, Dr. Linehan and coauthors set out to evaluate the importance of the skills training component by comparing three treatment groups: skills training plus case management to replace individual therapy; DBT individual therapy plus activities group to replace skills training so therapists instead focused on the skills patients already had; and standard DBT, which included skills training and individual therapy. The authors found that all three treatments reduced suicide attempts, suicide ideation, the severity of intentional self-injury, use of crisis services due to suicidality and improved reasons for living. The results also showed that inverventions that include DBT skills training are more effective thatn DBT without skills training. Read the full study.

– See more at: http://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/April-2015/Reducing-the-Risk-of-Suicide-in-Individuals-with-B#sthash.nYRYNOps.dpuf

House Passes Bill Aimed at Improving Psychiatric Care in the VA

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Photo Credit: enterlinedesign | DPC

From Psychiatric News Alert: APA hailed passage this week by the House of Representatives of legislation that would help the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) attract and retain psychiatrists and improve the agency’s suicide-prevention efforts.

The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act is named in honor of an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran and suicide-prevention advocate who took his own life in 2011. The bill sailed through the House in December, but it stalled in the Senate after a retiring senator, Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), objected to the cost.

Said APA President Paul Summergrad, M.D.:

“Too often the men and women who serve our country do not have timely access to the mental health care they need and deserve. Losing 22 veterans a day to suicide should move us all to immediate action. APA strongly supports the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which will make a real difference in the lives of many veterans by improving access to much needed mental health care…. We now ask that the Senate adopt this important legislation for our veterans.”

The bill would establish a pilot project encouraging more psychiatrists to choose a career with the VHA by offering medical school loan repayments on par with other government agencies and private organizations. Current policy makes it difficult for the VHA to compete with employers that offer employment incentives, such as medical school loan repayment. The bill would authorize the agency to recruit at least 10 psychiatrists into the loan-repayment program each year. It would also authorize a Government Accountability Office study of pay disparities affecting psychiatrists at the VA.

A summary of the bill is posted HERE. For more information, see the Psychiatric News article, “Push for Suicide Prevention Law Hits Senate Roadblock.”

CBT For Children With Anxiety May Confer Long-Term Suicide Prevention Benefit, Study Suggests

CBT for childhood anxiety disorder may confer long-term suicide prevention benefits. Credit: nenetus | DPC

CBT for childhood anxiety disorder may confer long-term suicide prevention benefits. Credit: nenetus | DPC

Successful cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for childhood anxiety disorder may confer long-term benefits for suicide prevention, according to a report in the Journal of the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Evidence for an independent relationship between anxiety and suicidality has been mixed. Researchers from the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine examined the relationship between response to treatment for an anxiety disorder in childhood and suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts at a follow-up interval of seven to 19 years. In the study, 66 adults were assessed, having completed CBT treatment for anxiety as children. Information regarding suicidality at follow-up was obtained via the World Mental Health Survey Initiative Version of the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview and the Beck Depression Inventory.

The follow-up data indicated that participants who responded favorably to CBT during childhood were less likely to endorse lifetime, past-month, and past-two-week suicidal ideation than were treatment nonresponders. This was consistent across self-report and interview-report of suicidal ideation.

“Results suggest more chronic and enduring patterns of suicidal ideation among those with anxiety in childhood that is not successfully treated,” the researchers stated. “This study adds to the literature that suggests successful CBT for childhood anxiety confers long-term benefits and underscores the importance of the identification and evidence-based treatment of youth anxiety.”

For more on research into suicide prevention, see the Psychiatric News article, “Novel Suicide-Prevention Treatment Targets Poor Sleep.”