Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


2 Comments

Why Suicide Is More Than A Mental Health Issue

Suicide prevention efforts shift towards improving mental health of everyone

Renowned chef Anthony Bourdain has been found dead in France while working on CNN program. He’s part of an age cohort with rising suicide rates in the U.S. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)
The deaths this week of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade come at at a time when new numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show suicide is on the rise.

The CDC said suicide rates in the U.S. increased more than 30 per cent between 1999 and 2016. The reasons for the rise are complicated and multidimensional.

“Suicide is more than a mental health issue,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, told reporters on Thursday.

“We don’t think we can just leave this to the mental health system to manage.”

Multiple circumstances

Bourdain took his own life, CNN said Friday. New York City’s chief medical examiner ruled that Spade’s death earlier this week was also a suicide.

Spade’s husband and business partner, Andy Spade, said she suffered from depression and anxiety for many years, but was seeing a doctor regularly and taking medication.

In its Vital Signs report, the CDC said that nearly 45,000 Americans died by their own hand in 2016. The latest U.S. data suggests in 54 per cent of completed suicides, there were no known mental health conditions.

In a sampling of 27 states, relationship problems were considered a contributing factor in 42 per cent of all suicides in 2015. “Problematic substance use” was listed in 28 per cent of cases.

Even so, the CDC acknowledges that poor mental health isn’t always easy to detect. The agency said there could be a number of reasons why the reported level of mental illness could underestimate its actual effect, including:

  • Not all illnesses are formally diagnosed.
  • Stigma still surrounds a diagnosis.
  • Loved ones might not have been aware of a mental health condition.

 

‘Disturbing’ age findings

Bourdain and Spade died at 61 and 55, respectively — an age cohort with strikingly high suicide rates in the U.S., according to the CDC.

“Middle-aged adults had the largest number of suicides and a particularly high increase in suicide rates. These findings are disturbing,” said Schuchat.

Patrick Smith, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association in Toronto, said he isn’t aware of a similar increase among that age group in Canada. But he said Bourdain and Spade’s deaths show that high-profile status is no bulwark against depression and other mental illnesses.

“Someone doesn’t say, ‘Wow, they had everything. I can’t believe they got cancer.’ But we still say that about suicide or depression,” said Smith.

“That’s really the societal challenge — to try to understand that depression and other mental illnesses can be found in every postal code and every income bracket.”

In the U.S., middle-aged adults also have higher rates of drug overdoses, Schuchat said. She pointed to emerging social science research suggesting increases in suicide correlate with “deaths of despair” among middle-age populations who may be harder hit by economic downturns.

suicide

 

The need for intervention

Suicide ranked as the ninth-leading cause of death in Canada in 2009, the last year for which numbers are available, and is the 10th-leading cause of death overall in the U.S.

In both countries, suicide prevention efforts are shifting toward meeting people’s needs before they reach crisis. Just as doctors don’t wait until cancer reaches stage 4 to intervene, Smith said experience in the U.K. shows that after community-based programs to provide support to people in workplaces and schools were introduced, prison populations were reduced and there was a dramatic drop in emergency room visits.

In countries with more community support, rates of feeling suicidal will be similar, Smith said, but there’s a better chance of having lower suicide rates.

Everyone has to take care of their mental health and the goal is to normalize conversations to improve and enhance it, Smith said.

Bourdain spoke to CBC last year about some of the psychological challenges he faced separating from his second wife and missing his daughter while travelling the globe for his show Parts Unknown. He’d also talked about his struggles with mental health and a history of drug use.

The CDC recommends teaching children, teens and adults coping and problem-solving skills, building social connections and maintaining dialogue. The agency also encourages safe storage of pills and guns.

Where to get help:

Canada Suicide Prevention Service

Toll-free 1-833-456-4566

Text: 45645

Chat: crisisservicescanada.ca

In French: Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)

Kids Help Phone:  1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre

If you’re worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them about it, says the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

Here are some warning signs:

    • Suicidal thoughts.
    • Substance abuse.
    • Purposelessness.
    • Anxiety.
    • Feeling trapped.
    • Hopelessness and helplessness.
    • Withdrawal.
    • Anger.
    • Recklessness.
    • Mood changes.
CBC News      Jun 08, 2018
With files from CBC’s Amina Zafar and Associated Press
source: www.cbc.ca
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Advertisements


Leave a comment

Study focuses on precipitating circumstances of suicide in children and early adolescents

Study focuses on precipitating circumstances of suicide in children and early adolescents

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide was the 10th leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 11 in 2014. This was the first time suicide had shown up in the CDC’s top ten leading causes of death for children in this age group.

A recent study from Arielle Sheftall, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital demonstrates that some individual characteristics and precipitating circumstances may be more prominent in children who die by suicide compared with early adolescents who die by suicide. It is the first study to exclusively focus on precipitating circumstances of suicide in children and early adolescents, defined as ages 5 to 14.

“Children who died by suicide were more likely to have relationship problems with family members or friends whereas early adolescents were more likely to have boyfriend or girlfriend relationship problems,” said Dr. Sheftall, first author of the study. “These differences tended to fall along developmental lines given elementary school-aged children are more likely to spend time with family and friends and less likely to engage in romantic relationships, which become more common during adolescence.”

A current mental health problem was present in approximately 33 percent of decedents in the study sample. Among this group, a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD was more common in children who died by suicide compared to early adolescent decedents, who were more likely to be affected by depression or dysthymia.

Dr. Sheftall and her colleagues used the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) and analyzed suicide deaths from 2003 to 2012 in 17 different states, segregating them by age group. The NVDRS database is unique in its inclusion of information from multiple sources including medical examiners and law enforcement reports. This allows more in-depth information to be gathered concerning personal, familial, and social factors surrounding a child’s death.

suicide

“We also found that 29 percent of children and early adolescents disclosed their intention for suicide to someone prior to their death,” says Dr. Sheftall. “Our study highlights the importance of educating pediatricians, primary health care providers, school personnel and families on how to recognize the warning signs of suicide and what steps to take when suicidal intent is disclosed. These warning signs include a child making suicidal statements, being unhappy for an extended period, withdrawing from friends or school activities or being increasingly aggressive or irritable.”

Research indicates that the use of suicide risk screening tools by pediatricians increases the detection of suicide risk in youth 400 percent without overburdening clinical care. Not only do pediatricians potentially see at-risk children on a regular basis, early detection allows the healthcare providers an opportunity to alert parents of potential risks and increases the likelihood of a child receiving mental health services in a timely fashion.

“Although suicide is extremely rare in elementary school-aged children, parents should be aware that children can and sometimes do think about suicide,” says Jeff Bridge, PhD, director of the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and co-author of the study. “It is important to ask children directly about suicide if there is a safety concern. Research has refuted the notion that asking children directly about suicide will trigger suicidal thinking or behavior. It does not hurt to ask. In fact, asking about suicide leads to hope for at-risk youth.”

The report also notes a recent increase in suicide rates among black children. Suicide by hanging, strangulation or suffocation was more common among black decedents in both age groups. More research is needed to establish whether unique patterns of suicide risk exist, so that prevention efforts might incorporate diverse strategies according to the children’s developmental level, race or ethnicity. The research team is currently investigating the best ways to screen young people for suicide risk in healthcare settings and make treatment recommendations to keep those youth identified as being at risk safe.

September 19, 2016
Source:  Nationwide Children’s Hospital   www.news-medical.net


Leave a comment

Here’s How To Cut High School Suicide Attempts 23%

Regular exercise for high school students can reduce suicide by 23%, a new study finds.

Exercise had a beneficial effect on both suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

The study is the first to show that exercise can help students who are being bullied.

Dr Jeremy Sibold, who led the research, said:

“I was surprised that it was that significant and that positive effects of exercise extended to kids actually trying to harm themselves.
Even if one kid is protected because we got them involved in an after-school activity or in a physical education program it’s worth it.”

The US survey of 13,583 high school students found that physical activity on four or more days was linked to a 23% reduction in suicidal ideation and attempts.

bullying sad teen child depression
Bullied high school students three times as likely to think about suicide.

The survey also revealed that:

  • 30% of students reported feeling sad for two or more weeks over the past year.
  • 22% reported suicidal thoughts.
  • 8.2% reported suicide attempts.

Bullied students were twice as likely to report sadness and three times as likely to think about suicide or try to act on those thoughts.

Suicide Awareness

Despite the benefits of exercise, many school administrators across the US are cutting physical education.

Currently only around half of young people in the US meet minimum standards for exercise (at least 60 minutes per day).

Dr Sibold said:

“It’s scary and frustrating that exercise isn’t more ubiquitous and that we don’t encourage it more in schools.
Instead, some kids are put on medication and told ‘good luck.’
If exercise reduces sadness, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts, then why in the world are we cutting physical education programs and making it harder for students to make athletic teams at such a critical age?”

The research was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (Sibold et al., 2015).
source: PsyBlog


Leave a comment

Are ‘Cat Ladies’ More Likely to Attempt Suicide?

By Alexandra Sifferlin       

Women who are infected with the common cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii may be more vulnerable to suicide, a new study finds, adding to the evidence that T. gondii or Toxo, as the bug is known, may cause subtle changes in the human brain that lead to personality changes and even mental illness.
The parasite is excreted in cat feces — which is why pregnant women are advised not to change the litter box — but it also spreads through undercooked meat and unwashed vegetables. Pregnant women who become infected with T. gondii can pass it onto their fetus, possibly causing brain damage or stillbirth. Now the new study finds that expectant mothers who have the infection, called toxoplasmosis, may themselves be at higher risk of suicide.
The finding comes from a study of 45,788 Danish women who gave birth between May 15, 1992, and January 15, 1995. University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers tested the women’s babies for T. gondii antibodies, which the infants could only have acquired from their mothers, and compared infection rates to the women’s suicide rates logged in the Danish health registry. The team also cross-checked the mental health registry to find out if any of the women had been previously diagnosed with mental illness.

They found that women who were infected with T. gondii were one-and-a-half times more likely to attempt suicide than uninfected women. The higher the levels of T. gondii antibodies found, the higher the suicide risk. They were also more likely to try to commit suicide violently, with a gun, sharp object or by jumping. When the researchers took into account women’s previous mental illness, they found that those who had toxoplasmosis were more likely to attempt suicide than those who had been mentally ill.

“We can’t say with certainty that T. gondii caused the women to try to kill themselves, but we did find a predictive association between the infection and suicide attempts later in life that warrants additional studies,” lead study author Dr. Teodor T. Postolache, an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Mood and Anxiety Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in a statement.

The findings fall in line with previous studies on T. gondii infection in humans. (In animals also, the parasite has been shown to subvert brain chemistry and manipulate behavior, sometimes dangerously.) A Czech scientist, Jaroslav Flegr, has studied T. gondii‘s effect on human personality and mental illness for decades, as detailed in a lengthy article in The Atlantic in March. The bug resides in about one-third of the world’s population (in the U.S., 10% to 20% are infected), but it usually doesn’t cause any noticeable effects — healthy people fight off the flu-like symptoms of an initial infection, after which the parasite lies dormant in the brain. “[O]r at least that’s the standard medical wisdom,” wrote Kathleen McAuliffe in The Atlantic:

If Flegr is right, the “latent” parasite may be quietly tweaking the connections between our neurons, changing our response to frightening situations, our trust in others, how outgoing we are, and even our preference for certain scents. And that’s not all. He also believes that the organism contributes to car crashes, suicides, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.”

Still, Flegr acknowledged that the effects of the parasite on personality were “very subtle” and that the “vast majority” of people wouldn’t even know they were infected. As for whether T. gondii infection could be used to predict self-harm or the odds of a car crash, Stanford neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky told McAuliffe: “[I]’m not too worried, in that the effects on humans are not gigantic. If you want to reduce serious car accidents, and you had to choose between curing people of Toxo infections versus getting people not to drive drunk or while texting, go for the latter in terms of impact.”

In the new study, researchers couldn’t establish that T. gondii infection caused increased risk of suicide, only that it was associated. And they’re not sure exactly why the link exists. “Is the suicide attempt a direct effect of the parasite on the function of the brain or an exaggerated immune response induced by the parasite affecting the brain? We do not know. In fact, we have not excluded reverse causality as there might be risk factors for suicidal behavior that also make people more susceptible to infection with T. gondii,” said Postolache in the statement.

The authors call for further studies focusing on the biological mechanisms of the parasite and how it may affect people’s suicide risk and other personality factors. If the findings hold up, perhaps T. gondii infection could be used to help prevent some of the 10 million suicide attempts that occur each year. “If we can identify a causal relationship, we may be able to predict those at increased risk for attempting suicide and find ways to intervene and offer treatment,” Postolache said.
In the meantime, people should cook their meat through, wash their vegetables and give their kitchen knives a good scrubbing to avoid spreading or contracting the parasite.
The study was published online in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

source: Time


Leave a comment

Facebook Launches Tool to Report Suicidal Behavior

Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:15am EST

(Reuters) – Facebook launched a new suicide prevention tool on Tuesday, giving users a direct link to an online chat with counselors who can help, the company said.

Friends are able to report suicidal behavior by clicking a report option next to any piece of content on the site and choosing suicidal content under the harmful behavior option, Facebook spokesman Frederic Wolens said.

Facebook will then email the user in distress a direct link for a private online chat with a crisis representative from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as well as the group’s phone number.

The new tool gives people who may not be comfortable picking up the phone a direct avenue to seek help.

“This was a natural progression from something we’ve been working on for a long time,” Wolens said.

Users also have the ability to report suicidal behavior by going to the site’s Help Center or search for suicide reporting forms. They can also use reporting links around the site.

Worried friends who reported the behavior will also receive a message to say it is being addressed, Wolens said.

Facebook, the most popular Web-based social networking site, has more than 800 million active users worldwide. The Palo Alto, California-based company was co-founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004.

The new suicide reporting tool will be made available to people who use Facebook in the United States and Canada.

Wolens said that all reporting on the site is done anonymously and so a distressed user will not know who reported the suicidal content.

Nearly 100 Americans die by suicide every day, according to the Surgeon General of the United States.

In the past year, more than 8 million Americans 18 or older had thought seriously about suicide, according to a blog post by the Surgeon General accompanying the release of the new Facebook tool.

(Reporting by Lauren Keiper; Editing by Peter Bohan and Richard Chang)

source: Reuters