Mental health crises seeing more kids forced to ED for help; experts call for greater investment

A dramatic increase in the number of children going to the emergency department in mental health crises is evidence “the system is failing”, according to a group of leading adolescent and mental health experts.

In Victoria, there was a 46 per cent increase in the number of children presenting to the ED for self-harm, stress and anxiety, mood, behavioural and emotional disorders between 2008 and 2015, according to a recent study.

Similarly, in New South Wales, ED presentations among 10-19 year-olds for suicidal thoughts, self-harm and intentional poisoning increased by 27 per cent between 2010 and 2014, another paper has shown.

Full story at ABC.net

Suicide risk for youth sharply higher in the months after self-harm

A study led by Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) revealed that young Americans had a sharply higher risk of suicide in the months after surviving a deliberate self-harm attempt. The authors say the findings, published online today in Pediatrics, underscore the need to direct clinical interventions toward youth who survive such attempts during this critical period.

“Our latest study shows that time is of the essence in preventing a nonfatal self-harm event from leading to a fatality,” said Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and lead author of the study. “Although young adults compared to adolescents had a higher risk of suicide over the year after self-harm, adolescents had a particularly high risk during the first few weeks.”

Nonfatal self-harm — meaning self-poisoning or self-injury (e.g., cutting) with or without suicidal intent — is common among young people. Although around one-third of young people who die of suicide have nonfatal self-harm events in the last three months of life, little is known about which young people with self-harm are at the highest short-term risk of suicide.

Full story at Science Daily

Suicidal thoughts rapidly reduced with ketamine, finds study

Ketamine was significantly more effective than a commonly used sedative in reducing suicidal thoughts in depressed patients, according to researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). They also found that ketamine’s anti-suicidal effects occurred within hours after its administration.

The findings were published online last week in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates in the U.S. increased by 26.5 percent between 1999 and 2015.

“There is a critical window in which depressed patients who are suicidal need rapid relief to prevent self-harm,” said Michael Grunebaum, MD, a research psychiatrist at CUMC, who led the study. “Currently available antidepressants can be effective in reducing suicidal thoughts in patients with depression, but they can take weeks to have an effect. Suicidal, depressed patients need treatments that are rapidly effective in reducing suicidal thoughts when they are at highest risk. Currently, there is no such treatment for rapid relief of suicidal thoughts in depressed patients.”

Full story at Science Daily

In Colorado, self-harm is leading cause of death in new mothers

Self-harm was the leading cause of pregnancy-associated deaths in Colorado from 2004 to 2014, ahead of car crashes, medical conditions and homicide, according to researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

The study, “Maternal Deaths from Suicide and Overdose in Colorado, 2004-2012,” found that of 211 maternal deaths, 30 percent were from self-harm, defined as suicide and nonintentional overdose deaths occurring during pregnancy and the first year after giving birth. In Colorado, the mortality rate from self-harm during the period was 9.6 per 100,000 live births. About 90 percent occurred in the postpartum period.

It is not known how the demographics and characteristics of maternal deaths in Colorado compare to other states or if such self-harm deaths are becoming more common. According to the study, in 2012 suicide was overall the most common cause of death in Colorado among those age 10 to 44.

Full story self-harm is leading cause of death in new mothers at Science Daily

Self-Harm, Suicide Ideation Tightly Linked in Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans

Non-suicidal self-injury–that is, purposefully hurting oneself without conscious suicidal intent–is relatively common among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, according to a study published online April 1, 2015, in Psychiatry Research. The research, conducted by Dr. Nathan Kimbrel, a research psychologist at the Durham VA Medical Center, included 151 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Of those, 14 percent reported a history of non-suicidal self-injury, or NSSI.

Moreover, the study found that those who deliberately hurt themselves were more likely to engage in suicidal behavior. The researchers hope that NSSI could serve as a marker for identifying which veterans are most likely to attempt suicide.

Full story of self harm and suicide for veterans at Science Daily