Is it possible to prevent suicides?
Science & Tech / /
One of the major multi-national studies on the field of suicides has identified the behavior patterns which showed as successful in pointing on suicide attempt. The findings of this study may lead to changes in clinical practice, especially in the care of patients suffering from depression, as it was shown that it is the major risk of suicide attempts.
Official statistic by the WHO shows that every year more than 800,000 people die due to committing suicide, with perhaps 20 times that number attempting suicide. Unfortunately, it is one of the leading causes of death in the young people. Therefore, effective measures for preventing suicide are needed.
The researchers from the BRIDGE-II-MIX, a major international study dealing with the topic of suicides, evaluated 2,811 patients suffering from depression, 628 of them had already attempted suicide. The study was based on interviewing the patients by a psychiatrist as if it was a standard evaluation. Among the studied parameters were included family history, previous suicide attempts, patients' clinical presentation, and other parameters. The characteristics and behaviors of those who already had attempted suicide were especially examined and were compared to depressed patients who had not attempted suicide.
The conclusion showed that certain patterns recur before suicide attempts. According to author of the study, Dr. Dina Popovic, ' "depressive mixed states" often preceded suicide attempts. A depressive mixed state is where a patient is depressed, but also has symptoms of "excitation," or mania. We found this significantly more in patients who had previously attempted suicide, than those who had not. In fact 40% of all the depressed patients who attempted suicide had a "mixed episode" rather than just depression. All the patients who suffer from mixed depression are at much higher risk of suicide. '
In a second part of the analysis they concluded that the risk of attempting suicide is at least 50% higher in depressed patient who have any of the following symptoms:
• Risky behaviour (promiscuous behavior, reckless driving)
• Psychomotor agitation (pacing around a room, wringing one's hands, pulling off clothing and putting it back on)
• Impulsivity (acting on a whim, displaying behaviour characterized by little or no forethought, reflection, or consideration of the consequences),
Dr. Popovic continued: "In our opinion, assessing these symptoms in every depressed patient we see is extremely important, and has immense therapeutical implications. Most of these symptoms will not be spontaneously referred by the patient, the clinician needs to inquire directly, and many clinicians may not be aware of the importance of looking at these symptoms before deciding to treat depressed patients.”
This is an important message for all clinicians, who deal depressed patients but do not pay enough attention to these symptoms, which patients do not always reported spontaneously. “The strength of this study is that it's not a clinical trial, with ideal patients -- it's a big study, from the real world," Popovis adds.