Impact News

Responding to Violence, Suicide, Psychosis and Trauma

Study Links Increased Risk Of Suicidal Behaviour In Adults To Sleep Problems

Article Date: 01 Apr 2009 – 6:00 PDT

Adults who suffer chronic sleep problems may face an increased risk of suicidal behaviour, new research indicates.

In a study to be presented on April 1, 2009 at the World Psychiatric Association international congress “Treatments in Psychiatry,” scientists found that the more types of sleep disturbances people had, the more likely they were to have thoughts of killing themselves, engage in planning a suicidal act or make a suicide attempt.

“People with two or more sleep symptoms were 2.6 times more likely to report a suicide attempt than those without any insomnia complaints,” said the study’s leader, Dr. Marcin Wojnar, a research fellow at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan in the United States and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical University of Warsaw in Poland.

The World Health Organization estimates that about 877,000 people worldwide die by suicide every year. The UN health agency says surveys indicate that for every death by suicide, anywhere from 10-40 suicide attempts are made.

“Identifying those at high risk of suicide is important for preventing it and these findings indicate that insomnia may be a modifiable risk factor for suicide in the general population,” Wojnar said. “This has implications for public health as the presence of sleep problems should alert doctors to assess such patients for a heightened risk of suicide even if they don’t have a psychiatric condition. Our findings also raise the possibility that addressing sleep problems could reduce the risk of suicidal behaviours.”

Scientists have consistently linked sleep disturbances to an increased risk of suicidal behaviour in people with psychiatric disorders and in adolescents, but it has been unclear whether the association also exists in the general adult population.

In the study, the broadest and most rigorously conducted of its kind, scientists examined the relationship over one year between three characteristics of insomnia (difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep and waking at least two hours earlier than desired) and three suicidal behaviours (suicidal thoughts, planning and attempts) in 5,692 Americans. About 35 percent of those studied reported experiencing at least one type of sleep disturbance in the preceding 12 months.

The most consistent link was seen for early morning awakening, which was related to all suicidal behaviours. People with this problem were twice as likely as those with no sleep problems to have had suicidal thoughts in the preceding 12 months, 2.1 times more likely to have planned suicide and 2.7 times more likely to have tried to kill themselves.

Difficulty falling asleep was a significant predictor of suicidal thoughts and planning. Compared with people who reported no sleep problems, those who had trouble initiating sleep had 1.9 times the risk of suicidal ideas and 2.2 times the risk of planning suicide.

People who had trouble sleeping through the night – waking up nearly every night and taking an hour or more to get back to sleep were twice as likely to have thought of suicide in the last year and were three times more likely to have attempted it than those who had no sleep problems.

The results were adjusted for several factors known to influence suicide, including substance abuse, depression, anxiety disorder and other mood disorders, as well as chronic medical conditions such as stroke, heart disease, lung disease and cancer. They were also adjusted for the influence of sociodemographic factors such as age, gender, and marital and financial status.

How sleep disturbance might increase the risk of suicide is still poorly understood, Wojnar said. Scientists have proposed that insufficient sleep may affect cognitive function and lead to poorer judgement, less impulse control and increased hopelessness. A dysfunction involving serotonin a brain chemical involved in mood regulation that plays an important role in sleep, psychiatric disorders and suicide is also suspected.

Further research is needed to determine whether other sleep problems, such as sleep apnoea (interrupted breathing during sleep) and non-restorative sleep, where people feel unrefreshed after an adequate amount of sleep, are also associated with suicidal behaviour, Wojnar added.

The study was funded by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the US National Institute of Mental Health.

World Psychiatric Association
http://www.wpanet.org

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Filed under: Suicide, , , ,

Rise in suicidal children calling ChildLine

By Charlotte Goddard Children & Young People Now 23 March 2009 The number of suicidal children counselled by ChildLine has tripled in the last five years. The NSPCC said today that nearly 60 suicidal children a week call the helpline, with one in 14 in immediate danger or needing urgent medical care. Some made suicide attempts while on the phone to a counsellor. Of those children who gave their age, more than half were 12- to 15-year-olds and one in 16 was 11 or under. Sue Minto, head of ChildLine, said: “Children feel suicidal for complex and different reasons, but often say they have a history of abuse, neglect, family problems or mental health issues. Others have been driven to the brink by bullying, their parents’ divorce, the death of someone close or exam stress.” The charity is calling for parents to be given guidance on how to spot possible signs of suicide, how to listen to their child’s worries and where to find help. It also wants teachers and doctors to be trained to identify suicide distress signs before children reach crisis point.

Filed under: Other Mental Health, Suicide

Depressed People Have Trouble Learning ‘Good Things In Life

ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2009) — While depression is often linked to negative thoughts and emotions, a new study suggests the real problem may be a failure to appreciate positive experiences.


Researchers at Ohio State University found that depressed and non-depressed people were about equal in their ability to learn negative information that was presented to them.

But depressed people weren’t nearly as successful at learning positive information as were their non-depressed counterparts.

“Since depression is characterized by negative thinking, it is easy to assume that depressed people learn the negative lessons of life better than non-depressed people – but that’s not true,” said Laren Conklin, co-author of the study and a graduate student in psychology at Ohio State.

The study appears in the March issue of the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.

Researchers tested 34 college students, 17 of whom met criteria for clinical depression and 17 of whom were not depressed.

This study is one of the first to be able to link clinical levels of depression to how people form attitudes when they encounter new events or information, said Daniel Strunk, co-author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Strunk said the key to conducting this study was the use of a computer game paradigm co-developed at Ohio State in 2004 by Russell Fazio, a professor of psychology and co-author of this new study.  Fazio and his collaborators, Natalie Shook, a PhD graduate of Ohio State now at Virginia Commonwealth University and J. Richard Eiser of the University of Sheffield (England) have used the game in many studies examining differences in the development of positive and negative attitudes.

The developers affectionately call the game “BeanFest.”  It involves people encountering images of beans on the computer screen.  The beans could be good or bad, depending on their shape and the number of speckles they had.

Good beans earned the players points, while bad beans took points away.  The goal was to earn as many points as possible.

While the game may seem trivial to a naive audience, Strunk said it offers a unique and powerful way to measure how people learn new attitudes.

“Before, if researchers wanted to investigate how people formed new attitudes, it was very difficult to do,” Strunk said.  If researchers asked about real-life issues, the problem is that prior learning and attitudes may impact how people respond to new information.  But in this game, participants don’t have any prior knowledge or attitudes about the beans so researchers could learn how they formed their attitudes in a novel situation, without interference from past experiences.

In the game phase of this study, participants had to choose whether they would accept a bean when it appeared on the screen.  If they accepted the bean, the points were added or deducted from their total.  If they rejected the bean, they were still told how many points they would have earned or lost if they had accepted it.

Each of the 34 beans was shown three times during the game phase, giving the participants a good opportunity to learn which beans were good and which were bad.

Then, in the test phase, participants had to indicate whether beans they learned about in the game phase were “good” (choosing it would increase points) or “bad” (choosing it would decrease points).  The researchers tallied how well participants did in correctly identifying positive and negative beans.

The non-depressed students correctly identified 61 percent of the negative beans, which was about the same as the depressed students, who correctly identified 66 percent of the “bad” beans.

But while the non-depressed students correctly identified 60 percent of the positive beans, depressed students correctly classified only 49 percent of these good beans.  Non-depressed students identified the good beans better than the depressed students, who failed to identify good beans better than chance.

“The depressed people showed a bias against learning positive information although they had no trouble learning the negative,” Strunk said.

One of measures researchers used in the study classified whether the depressed participants were currently undergoing a mild, moderate or severe episode of depression.  In the study, those undergoing a severe depressive episode did more poorly on correctly choosing positive beans than those with mild depression, further strengthening the results.

While more research is needed, Conklin and Strunk said this study suggests possible ways to improve treatment of depressed people.

“Depressed people may have a tendency to remember the negative experiences in a situation, but not remember the good things that happened,” Conklin said. “Therapists need to be aware of that.”

For example, a depressed person who is trying out a new exercise program may mention how it makes him feel sore and tired – but not consider the weight he has lost as a result of the exercise.

“Therapists might focus more on helping their depressed clients recognize and remember the positive aspects of their new experiences,” Strunk said.


Adapted from materials provided by Ohio State University.

Filed under: Other Mental Health, Suicide, , ,

Reducing Suicidal Behaviors Among Adolescents

ScienceDaily (Mar. 15, 2009) — Adolescent girls who view themselves as too fat may display more suicidal behaviors than those who are actually overweight, according to a study by Inas Rashad, an assistant professor of economics at Georgia State University.

Although studies have shown a link between obesity, depressive disorders and suicidal behaviors, Rashad and Dhaval Dave of Bentley University, analyze these indicators in conjunction with an individual’s perception of their weight. The study, which was accepted for publication in February, will be published in Social Science and Medicine.

“Both obesity and suicide have been highlighted by the Surgeon General as areas of focus for adolescents and areas of great concern,” Rashad said. “We find that the role perception has independently of actual overweight status is an important one, which has implications in terms of any solutions to the obesity epidemic that are put forth.”

The researchers utilized data from 1999 to 2007 from the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System, which indicated that 17 percent of high school students have seriously considered committing suicide. The data were used to not only investigate whether overweight status or perception are causal factors affecting suicidal thoughts and attempts among high school students, but also to estimate the potential economic costs.

“If being overweight not only imposes the usual health care and labor market costs, but also increases the risk of suicide, we need to take these costs into account when offering solutions,” Rashad said.

The study revealed that body dissatisfaction had a strong impact on all suicidal behaviors for girls and was generally insignificant for males. For instance, any perception of being overweight by girls raised the probability of suicidal thoughts by 5.6 percent, the probability of a suicide attempts by 3.2 percent, and the probability of an injury causing suicide attempts by 0.6 percent. The researchers also state that the risk of suicide by adolescent females could potentially add about $280 to $350 million to the costs of adolescent obesity, which includes the direct cost of illnesses and associated health care and indirect costs such as productivity losses, reduced income and premature mortality.

Rashad hopes more research will be done on the topic, but she recommends efforts aimed at preventing youth suicides focus on educating youths and fostering healthy attitudes with regard to weight.

“The prevalence of body dissatisfaction, among special populations of youths such as non-black girls, is significantly higher than the general youth population, even when the underlying weight is in a healthy range,” Rashad said. “Interventions that identify and assist these youths and educate them regarding a healthy body image will succeed in lowering suicide attempts.”
Adapted from materials provided by Georgia State University, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Filed under: Suicide, , , , ,

Religion and Support for Suicide Attacks

21 Feb 2009

In a new study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychologists Jeremy Ginges and Ian Hansen from the New School for Social Research along with psychologist Ara Norenzayan from the University of British Columbia conducted a series of experiments investigating the relationship between religion and support for acts of parochial altruism, including suicide attacks. Suicide attacks are an extreme form of “parochial altruism” – they combine a parochial act (the attacker killing members from other groups) with altruism (the attacker sacrificing themselves for the group).

While the relationship between religion and popular support for suicide attacks is a topic of frequent conjecture, scientific study of the relationship is rare. The researchers found that the relationship between religion and support suicide attacks is real but is unrelated to devotion to particular religious beliefs or religious belief in general. Instead, collective religious ritual appears to facilitate parochial altruism in general and support for suicide attacks in particular.

The researchers surveyed Palestinian Muslims about their attitudes towards religion, including how often they prayed and went to mosque. The researchers found that devotion to Islam, as measured by prayer frequency, was unrelated to support for suicide attacks. However, frequency of mosque attendance did predict support for suicide attacks. In a separate survey of Palestinian Muslim university students, the researchers found again that those who attended mosque more than once a day, were more likely to believe that Islam requires suicide attacks, compared to students who attended mosque less often.

A similar pattern of results was found in research carried out with other religious groups. In another experiment, the researchers conducted phone surveys with Israeli Jews living in the West Bank and Gaza and asked them either how frequently they attended synagogue or how often they prayed to God. All participants were then asked if they supported the perpetrator of a suicide attack against Palestinians. Analysis of the responses showed that 23% of those asked about synagogue attendance supported suicide attacks while only 6% of those queried about prayer frequency supported suicide attacks.

In the last experiment, the psychologists surveyed members of six religious majorities in six nations (Mexican Catholics, Indonesian Muslims, Israeli Jews, Russian Orthodox in Russia, British Protestants and Indian Hindus) to see if the relationship between attending religious services and support for acts of parochial altruism holds up across a variety of political and cultural contexts. These results also showed that support for parochial altruism was related to attendance at religious services, but unrelated to regular prayer.

This study indicates that religious devotion does not cause support for suicide attacks or other forms of parochial altruism. However, the findings suggest that regularly attending religious services may make individuals more prone to supporting acts of parochial altruism. The researchers theorize that collective religious rituals and services create a sense of community among participants and enhance positive attitudes towards parochially altruistic acts such as suicide attacks. Although, the researchers note, the greater sense of community, developed via religious services, may have many positive consequences. They observe, “Only in particular geopolitical contexts is the parochial altruism associated with such commitments translated into something like suicide attacks.”

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Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release.
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Psychological Science is ranked among the top 10 general psychology journals for impact by the Institute for Scientific Information.

Article: “Religion and Support for Suicide Attacks”

Source: Barbara Isanski
Association for Psychological Science

Filed under: Suicide, trauma, Violence

Risk Factors For Suicidal Events Found Among Adolescents With Treatment-Resistant Depression

19 Feb 2009
Family conflict, drug or alcohol use and pre-existing suicidal thoughts were the strongest predictors of suicidal events among adolescents whose depression treatment was changed after a lack of response to a previous medication.

The findings were reported today in the article “Predictors of Spontaneous and Systematically Assessed Suicidal Adverse Events in the Treatment of SSRI-Resistant Depression in Adolescents (TORDIA) Study,” at AJP in Advance, the online advance edition of The American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP), the official journal of the American Psychiatric Association.

In the study, 334 adolescent patients who had not responded to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) were switched to a different SSRI or to venlafaxine, with or without cognitive-behavioral therapy. Forty-eight patients experienced a suicidal event-suicidal ideation (new or worsening), a suicidal threat or a suicide attempt. The median time from a suicidal threat to a suicidal event was three weeks. In the AJP article, lead author David Brent, M.D., and colleagues recommend careful monitoring of more severely depressed adolescent patients who have high levels of suicidal thoughts or family conflict.

Treatments that target family conflict and emotion regulation early may help reduce suicidal events. Likewise, since the predictors of suicidal events also predict poor treatment response, targeting family conflict, suicidal ideation and drug use may hasten response and help to reduce the incidence of these events. TORDIA is sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health. Any other funding the authors may have received is disclosed in the article itself.

The American Journal of Psychiatry is the official journal of the American Psychiatric Association. Statements in this press release or the articles in the Journal are not official policy statements of the American Psychiatric Association.

About the American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose more than 38,000 physician members specialize in diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses, including substance use disorders. Visit the APA at http://www.psych.org and http://www.HealthyMinds.org.

Filed under: Other Mental Health, Suicide, , , , ,

Suicide & Self-Harm – Individual Places Available on Course in Nottingham

There are still a few places available on the “Razor’s Edge” course in Nottingham. If you are interested, the course is on 23-24th March 2009 and is organised by Nottingham HLG. You can book via the HLG website:

http://www.hlg.org.uk/trainingsubmit.htm

Or contact HLG’s Training Co-ordinator on 0115 956 5313 or email admin@hlg.org.uk

Information about the course can be found at:

http://www.hlg.org.uk/TrngRazEdge.htm

Filed under: Impact Training, self-harm, Suicide, , ,

Suicide is rare among young children, but they’re not immune

– February 06, 2009

Feb. 6–The death of a 10-year-old boy found hanging this week in an Evanston school bathroom demonstrates that even the youngest aren’t immune from taking their lives, mental health experts said Thursday.

Though rare, suicide is the sixth-leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 14. Among ages 15 to 24, it’s the third leading cause, said Dr. Louis Kraus, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center.

Most children by age 8 understand the permanence of death but do not appreciate the consequences of their actions, he said.

“The majority of kids that kill themselves don’t intend to actually kill themselves,” Kraus said. “It’s something impulsive. It’s out of anger or frustration.”

What Aquan Lewis intended when he walked into the Oakton Elementary School bathroom Tuesday remains unknown.

The 5th grader, described as a happy child who loved sports and enjoyed school, reportedly told a teacher who scolded him that he would harm himself the same day his body was discovered hanging from the hook of a stall door, according to sources familiar with the case. A source said Aquan had psychiatric problems. His mom, Angel Marshall, said her son never harmed himself or acted suicidal.

State Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) plans to introduce a bill next week that would mandate suicide prevention training for all educators statewide. Current law requires training in secondary schools but not for elementaries.

Evanston-Skokie School District 65 teachers get annual training in abuse, neglect and suicide prevention, a spokeswoman said.

Author Paul Raeburn, who has written extensively on childhood psychiatric disorders, contends suicide is almost always a symptom of mental illness.

“Adults will ask ‘why?’ The answer in almost all cases is ‘because he was sick,’ ” Raeburn said.

Tribune reporters Susan Kuczka and Ofelia Casillas contributed.

tmalone@tribune.com

brubin@tribune.com

Filed under: Suicide

Army suicides at record high, passing civilians

– January 29, 2009

WASHINGTON – Stressed by war and long overseas tours, U.S. soldiers killed themselves last year at the highest rate on record, the toll rising for a fourth straight year and even surpassing the suicide rate among comparable civilians. Army leaders said they were doing everything they could think of to curb the deaths and appealed for more mental health professionals to join and help out.

At least 128 soldiers committed suicide in 2008, the Army said Thursday. And the final count is likely to be even higher because 15 more suspicious deaths are still being investigated.

“Why do the numbers keep going up? We cannot tell you,” said Army Secretary Pete Geren. “We can tell you that across the Army we’re committed to doing everything we can to address the problem.”

It’s all about pressure and the military approach, said Kim Ruocco, 45, whose Marine husband was an officer and Cobra helicopter pilot who hanged himself in a California hotel room in 2005. That was one month before he was to return to Iraq a second time.

She said her husband, John, had completed 75 missions in Iraq and was struggling with anxiety and depression but felt he’d be letting others down if he sought help and couldn’t return.

“He could be any Marine because he was highly decorated, stable, the guy everyone went to for help,” Ruocco said in a telephone interview. “But the thing is … the culture of the military is to be strong no matter what and not show any weakness.”

Ruocco, of Newbury, Mass., was recently hired to be suicide support coordinator for the nonprofit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. She said she feels that the military has finally started to reach out to suicide survivors and seek solutions.

“Things move slowly, but I think they’re really trying,” Ruocco said.

At the Pentagon on Thursday, Col. Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatric consultant to the Army surgeon general, made a plea for more professionals to sign on to work for the military.

“We are hiring and we need your help,” she said.

Military leaders promised fresh prevention efforts will start next week.

The new suicide figure compares with 115 in 2007 and 102 in 2006 and is the highest since current record-keeping began in 1980. Officials expect the deaths to amount to a rate of 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers, which is higher than the civilian rate – when adjusted to reflect the Army’s younger and male-heavy demographics – for the first time in the same period of record-keeping.

Officials have said that troops are under unprecedented stress because of repeated and long tours of duty due to the simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yearly increases in suicides have been recorded since 2004, when there were 64 – only about half the number now. Officials said they found that the most common factors were soldiers suffering problems with their personal relationships, legal or financial issues and problems on the job.

But the magnitude of what the troops are facing in combat shouldn’t be forgotten, said Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., a former Navy vice admiral, who noted he spoke with a mother this week whose son was preparing for his fifth combat tour.

“This is a tough battle that the individuals are in over there,” Sestak said. “It’s unremitting every day.”

Said Dr. Paul Ragan, an associate professor of psychiatry at Vanderbilt University and a former Navy psychiatrist: “Occasional or sporadic visits by military mental health workers are like a Band-Aid for a gushing wound.”

The statistics released Thursday cover soldiers who killed themselves while they were on active duty – including National Guard and Reserve troops who had been activated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the suicide rate for U.S. society overall was about 11 per 100,000 in 2004, the latest year for which the agency has figures. But the Army says the civilian rate is more like 19.5 per 100,000 when adjusted.

An earlier report showed the Marine Corps recorded 41 possible or confirmed suicides in 2008 – about 19 per 100,000 troops.

The military’s numbers don’t include deaths after people have left the services. The Department of Veterans Affairs tracks those numbers and says there were 144 suicides among the nearly 500,000 service members who left the military from 2002-2005 after fighting in at least one of the two ongoing wars.

On the Net:

Army suicide prevention http://www.armyg1.army.mil/HR/suicide/default.asp

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Filed under: Suicide, trauma, Violence, , , ,

Razors Edge – Working with People who Self-Harm – 5 Places in Nottingham

This course hosted by Nottingham HLG is being held on Mon 23 & Tues 24 March 2009. Currently there are 5 places left. If you are interested go to:

http://www.hlg.org.uk/TrngRazEdge.htm

or book at

Email: admin@hlg.org.uk Online:http://www.hlg.org.uk/trainingsubmit.htm Phone: 0115 8599525

Filed under: Impact Training, Suicide, , , , , ,