Predicting Suicide Attempts and Suicide Deaths Using Electronic Health Records

Suicide accounted for nearly 45,000 deaths in the United States in 2016. Unfortunately, tools currently used to predict an individual’s risk of a suicide attempt or dying by suicide, such as brief self-report measures, have only moderate accuracy. Now, researchers have developed a new prediction model that substantially outperforms existing self-report tools. The study, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), was published online on May 24, 2018, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Research has shown that half of the people who die by suicide, and two-thirds of people who attempt suicide, received a mental health diagnosis or treatment in the previous year. These statistics suggest an opportunity for doctors to identify and assist those who are at risk for suicide before they act.

Full story at NIMH

How your coffee date can protect your mental health, plus 5 other tips you need to read now

Kate Spade was a designer whose name was synonymous with style and fun.

Anthony Bourdain was a celebrity chef and TV host who seemed to be at the top of his game, traveling the globe eating at exotic locales and connecting with people.

Yet they both ended their own lives.

Their deaths, combined with new data showing suicide rates are increasing in the United States, have shown that celebrity and success are no barrier to suicide.

Emotional troubles don’t pay attention to income, and people who seem to “have it all” can also have the mental health difficulties that cause people to kill themselves.

Full story at ABC News

Suicide: How You Can Make a Difference

The recent deaths of high-profile public figures and a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on rising suicide rates have brought the topic of suicide into everyday conversations. It’s important to know some facts and to know what to do if you think someone might be at risk for self-harm. A crisis can pass with time and the most important thing is to stay safe through the crisis and get help.

5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain

  • Ask: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.
  • Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.

Full story at NIMH

Using chosen names reduces odds of depression and suicide in transgender youths

In one of the largest and most diverse studies of transgender youths to date, researchers led by a team at The University of Texas at Austin have found that when transgender youths are allowed to use their chosen name in places such as work, school and at home, their risk of depression and suicide drops.

“Many kids who are transgender have chosen a name that is different than the one that they were given at birth,” said author Stephen T. Russell, professor and chair of human development and family science. “We showed that the more contexts or settings where they were able to use their preferred name, the stronger their mental health was.”

The study in the Journal of Adolescent Health was published this week in advance of Saturday’s annual Transgender Day of Visibility.

Full story at Science Daily

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

Women who attempt suicide exhibit different protein levels years after the attempt

Women with a history of suicide attempts exhibit different levels of a specific protein in their bloodstream than those with no history of suicide attempts, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Graduate student Anastacia Kudinova and Brandon E. Gibb, professor of psychology and director of clinical training at Binghamton University, recruited 73 women as part of a larger study focused on risk for depression and anxiety in families. They put the women into two groups — 34 women had a lifetime history of suicide attempts and 39 women had no lifetime history of suicide attempts. The researchers tested plasma levels in both groups for BDNF, or brain-derived neurotropic factor, a protein found in the brain and periphery that is critical to the creation and functioning of neurons and the ability of synapses to strengthen or weaken over time. They found that women with a history of suicide attempts displayed lower circulating levels of BDNF than women with no history of suicide attempts.

This evidence suggests that the level of BDNF found within a woman’s circulatory system serves as a promising biomarker for suicidal behavior.

Full story at Science Daily

Young people with chronic illness more likely to attempt suicide

Young people between the ages of 15 and 30 living with a chronic illness are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their healthy peers, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo.

The study found that chronic conditions — such as asthma, diabetes and Crohn’s disease — increase a young person’s odds of suicidal thoughts by 28 per cent and plans to die by suicide by 134 per cent. Having a chronic condition increases the odds of a suicide attempt by 363 per cent.

“Evidence suggests risk for suicide attempts is highest soon after young people are diagnosed with a chronic illness,” said Mark Ferro, a professor in Waterloo’s Faculty of Applied Health Sciences. “There is a critical window of opportunity for prevention and continued monitoring.”

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

Correlates of overweight, obesity among adolescents with bipolar disorder in the national comorbidity survey

Bipolar disorder is one of the most disabling medical conditions among adolescents worldwide. Similarly, being overweight or obese is common in adolescents and is known to confer risk for cardiovascular disease and other poor health outcomes in adulthood. As a result, the intersection of bipolar disorder and overweight is a matter of clinical and public health concern. Previous studies have demonstrated that overweight and obesity are more prevalent among adults with bipolar disorder as compared to the general population, and that overweight and obesity are associated with proxies of increased bipolar disorder severity, such as suicide attempts and greater symptom burden. Thus far, little is known about overweight among adolescents with bipolar disorder.

A study published in the December 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) is the first to examine this topic in a large, representative sample of the US adolescent population. The NCS-A is a face-to-face survey of mental disorders in a representative sample of adolescents 13-17 years old. Participants included 295 adolescents with bipolar disorder, 1,112 with major depressive disorder, and 8,716 with neither of these conditions. 37.9% of adolescents with bipolar disorder were also overweight, compared to 32.4% of adolescents with major depressive disorder, and 32% of adolescents with neither of these conditions — differences that were not statistically significant.

Full story of bipolar disorder and obesity at Science Daily

Relationship, behavioral differences between children, early adolescents who die by suicide

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.”

Full story of relationship and behavioral between children and suicide at Science Daily