Crisis and Suicide Prevention Services Struggle with Demand after Celebrity Suicides

The United States may lack the resources needed to meet increases in demand for suicide prevention services that occur after celebrity suicides, according to a recent study of crisis mental health services. The study, conducted by a team of researchers, which included scientists from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, highlights the need for suicide prevention hotlines to procure additional funds, allocate existing funds more efficiently, and develop contingency plans to accommodate increases in call volumes, particularly for the first two days after a celebrity suicide. The findings appear in the journal Psychiatric Services.

“Suicide prevention is a significant public health concern and a top priority for NIMH,” said Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., director of NIMH. “This study highlights the importance of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and other crisis mental health services, and the need to build surge capacity of these services that could help save lives.”

Full story at NIMH

Suicide: How You Can Make a Difference

The recent deaths of two school shooting survivors has 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

Higher risk of alcohol- and suicide-related death in diabetes

A new study uncovers a worrying association: people who have any form of diabetes are more likely to die by suicide, causes related to alcohol consumption, or due to an accident.

Researchers at the Universities of Helsinki and Tampere, and from Helsinki University Hospital — all in Finland — conducted a large population study investigating the relationship between diabetes and the risk of death due to factors such as alcohol, suicide, and accidents.

Both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes place people at a heightened risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, as well as cancer and kidney disease.

Full story at Medical News Today

Opioid overdoses, depression linked

The link between mental health disorders and substance abuse is well-documented. Nearly one in 12 adults in the U.S is depressed, and opioid-related deaths are skyrocketing. As these numbers continue to climb, some mental health professionals have started to wonder if there’s a link between the two.

According to a new study published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, the link is strong.

“For every additional 1 percent of the population that has a depression diagnosis, we see between a 25 and 35 percent increase in the number of opioid overdose deaths,” said Laura Schwab Reese, an assistant professor of health and kinesiology at Purdue University, who led the study. “We thought maybe suicide was driving this, but we sectioned out unintentional overdose and found that the relationship continued.”

More than 72,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017, mostly from opioids. The Trump administration declared the crisis a public health emergency in October 2017, but the end is still out of sight. This, coupled with rising rates of depression and a lack of access to mental health care for many, is proving to be deadly.

Full story at Science Daily

App, brief intervention may be lifesaver for suicidal teens

A troubled teenager is hospitalized with suicidal thoughts. The patient is diagnosed, medicated, and counseled by a team of experts.

The teen is sent home a few days later, and the following week the parent finds the child’s bedsheets fashioned into a noose.

The scenario is tragically common in the field of psychiatry, which has long struggled to develop strategies to help adolescents cope with recurring thoughts of suicide in the weeks after leaving the hospital.

A preliminary study from UT Southwestern’s O’Donnell Brain Institute shows an intervention program that includes a personalized app could make a difference: Researchers found the rate of attempted suicides by teenagers who received the intervention was halved compared to those who received the standard care during their hospitalization.

Full story at Science Daily

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

There may be one big reason why suicide rates keep climbing in the US, according to mental-health experts

Anthony Bourdain, acclaimed chef who explored the globe in search of the world’s best cuisine, died by apparent suicide Friday morning in France, CNN said. The report followed news of fashion mogul Kate Spade’s suicide earlier this week.

Their deaths come amid a larger, alarming trend happening across the US: Since 1999,the national suicide rate has risen 28%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nearly every state has seen a rise over that period.

While suicide is a complex response to trauma that often involves many factors, mental illness is one of the leading contributors, according to the CDC. But for those who have a mental illness and can’t afford mental healthcare, their conditions are more likely to worsen.

Full story at Business Insider

Dramatic rise in suicides is “more than a mental health issue,” CDC says

Just days after the tragic death of fashion icon Kate Spade, which the medical examiner confirmed Thursday was a suicide, new government research sheds light on a disturbing increase in suicides in the United States. The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that suicide rates have risen dramatically across most of the country in the past three decades.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and is one of just three leading causes that are on the rise.

“Unfortunately, our data show that the problem is getting worse,” CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D., said in a press briefing on Thursday.

According to the study, the rate of suicide in the U.S. rose nearly 30 percent between 1999 and 2016.

Full story at CBS News

Mental health services: How to get treatment if you can’t afford it

As the number of people diagnosed with mental health issues such as depression rises to new highs, the need for medical services to treat them is growing too. Approximately 56 percent of American adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment. There’s also evidence of a dire lack of treatment among teens, with the CDC reporting that the suicide rate for teens is skyrocketing.

Why aren’t people getting the help they need? The answer is complicated. On one hand there’s the lingering stigma around mental illness that may hinder people from seeking care (a problem that campaigns like Mental Health Awareness Month aim to solve), but there’s also the fact that our health care system has yet to treat mental health as comprehensively as it does physical health. There’s no such thing as an insurance-covered annual mental health examfor instance, and therapists who do accept insurance are often working twice as hard just to get reimbursed by providers.

Full story at NBC News

Hubs Help Native American Communities Address Youth Suicide

Three NIMH-funded collaborative research hubs are exploring the factors behind the high suicide rates among American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) youth and designing and testing approaches to preventing suicide. In each hub, research centers and tribal or urban AI/AN leaders and organizations are working together to provide information on which to base effective, community-based, and culturally sensitive preventive approaches that are suitable for use in low-resource settings.

AI/AN youth have suicide rates that are among the highest of any demographic group in the U.S.; based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rates of suicide in the AI/AN population have been increasing since 2003. Suicide rates vary among communities, however, and the reasons for the variation are not clear. One of the goals of the work is to explore elements that promote resilience, including the degree of adherence to cultural spirituality, community engagement, and participation in traditional practices.

Full story at NIMH