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This study aimed to assess the impact of COVID-19 on presentations to an acute hospital with self-harm.
All presentations to University Hospital Galway with self-harm were assessed during the peak period of the coronavirus crisis in Ireland, over the three months from 1st March to 31st May 2020. These data were compared with presentations in the same months in the three years preceding (2017-2019). Data were obtained from the anonymised service database.
This study found that in 2020, the rate of presentation with self-harm dropped by 35% from March to April and rose by 104% from April to May, peaking from mid-May. When trends over a four-year period were examined, there was a significantly higher lethality of attempt (p<0.001), and significant differences in diagnosis (p=0.031) in 2020 in comparison with the three previous years. The increased lethality of presentations remained significant after age and gender were controlled for (p=0.036). There were also significant differences in the underlying psychiatric diagnoses(p=0.018), notably with a significant increase in substance misuse disorders presenting during the 2020 study period.
COVID-19 showed a reduction in self-harm presentations initially, followed by a sharp increase in May 2020. If a period of economic instability follows as predicted, it is likely that this will further impact the mental health of the population, along with rates of self-harm and suicidal behaviours. There is a need for research into the longer-term effect of the restrictions and changes due to Covid-19, especially with respect to self-harm.
The interpersonal theory of suicide (IPTS) is one of the most intensively researched contemporary theories on the development of suicidal ideation and behaviour. However, there is a lack of carefully conducted prospective studies.
To evaluate the main predictions of the IPTS regarding the importance of perceived burdensomeness, thwarted belongingness and capability for suicide in predicting future suicide attempts in a prospective design.
Psychiatric in-patients (n = 308; 53.6% (n = 165) female; mean age 36.82 years, s.d. = 14.30, range 18–81) admitted for severe suicidal ideation (n = 145, 47.1%) or a suicide attempt completed self-report measures of thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness, capability for suicide, hopelessness, depression and suicidal ideation as well as interviews on suicide intent and suicide attempts and were followed up for 12 months. Logistic regression and receiver operating characteristics (ROC) analysis were conducted.
The interaction of perceived burdensomeness, thwarted belongingness and capability for suicide was not predictive of future suicide attempts, but perceived burdensomeness showed a significant main effect (z = 3.49, P < 0.01; OR = 2.34, 95% CI 1.59–3.58) and moderate performance in screening for future suicide attempts (area under the curve AUC = 0.729, P < 0.01).
The results challenge the theoretical validity of the IPTS and its clinical utility – at least within the methodological limitations of the current study. Yet, findings underscore the importance of perceived burdensomeness in understanding suicidal ideation and behaviour.
In “Family Dynamics and the Re-definitions of Papa-hood,” Suzanne del Gizzo tracks the construction of Hemingway’s famous “Papa” persona and the way, especially since the end of the twentieth century, scholars and critics have explored how the assumption his parternal if not paternalistic image may have been rooted in vulnerability and anxiety about masculinity – and indeed about identity more broadly – that began in the author’s childhood and extended into his public and private performances of “Papa”-hood into his adulthood, performances further complicated by a rapid decline in health and mental well-being in his fifties. Del Gizzo observes that the issue of “Papa”-hood is found at a busy intersection of Hemingway scholarship, where biography, psychoanalytic criticism, trauma studies, masculinity studies, and clinical assessments of the author’s mental health issues converge. Informed by developments in our understanding of the impact of mental health on family life, the essay surveys biographical criticism and literary scholarship related to representations of fathers and sons in Hemingway’s work.
Alcohol can increase pleasurable feelings and facilitate social interactions. It may decrease anxiety, although unreliably. With alcohol-produced “myopia,” immediate events and surroundings become more salient than remote or distant concerns. Disinhibition of behavior is often part of the rewarding effect of low to moderate amounts of alcohol. However, larger amounts and greater degrees of disinhibition can lead to dangerous behavior, even in individuals who do not have a diagnosable alcohol use disorder. High levels of intoxication impair sound judgment, sometimes promoting risky sexual activity or sexual assault. Alcohol impairs coordination, concentration, and vigilance, causing many traffic accidents. Large doses of alcohol can suppress respiration and cause death. A life-threatening withdrawal syndrome can occur when prolonged heavy drinking stops. Alcohol can produce depressive states, and suicide risk increases, especially for individuals suffering from pre-existing clinical depression. Because about two-thirds of the adult population in the United States consume alcohol, the small percentage with an alcohol use disorder includes an estimated 14.5 million individuals.3
School psychologists play a vital role in the mental health and well-being of students and are often tasked with establishing the assessment and intervention plans for reducing the severity of mental health difficulties, including suicidal behavior. With suicide the second-leading cause of death for middle and high school students, school psychologists need to be familiar with what their role is in recommending and providing suicide prevention and intervention programs within a multitiered systems of support (MTSS) framework. This chapter provides an overview of the problem of adolescent suicidal behavior (“what to know”), while also providing specific recommendations (“what to do”) for suicide prevention/intervention programs within each tier of the MTSS. Finally, this chapter includes specific guidelines for implementing “suicide postvention” (after a death due to suicide) procedures, in hopes of reducing the likelihood of another death due to suicide.
In “Still Famous after All These Years: Ernest Hemingway in the Twenty-First Century,” Loren Glass offers a humorous overview of the way that Hemingway’s name has been franchised and flogged over the past two decades to sell an innumerable amount of products. He notes lawsuits that caused restaurants to change their name from Hemingway’s to Hemmingway’s to capitalize upon the writer’s appeal and catalogues the various tourist stops, from Ketchum Idaho to Key West Florida and Havana Cuba, that cash in on Hemingway’s fame. For Glass, commercial exploitation is no different than the scholarly commodification of the writer that has accelerated with the opening of various archives and museums over the past twenty years, as well as the Hemingway Letters Project, which ensures his pluripresence in American popular culture. Glass also notes how suicide and the struggles of fame have become a consistent narrative, leading to celebrity becoming a metatextual phenomenon in which people become famous for dramatizing their struggles with fame.
When a complex emergency (CE) overwhelms infrastructure, the ability of healthcare providers to work efficiently under duress saves lives. Objectives and method: The author uses her experience of providing mental health supports to humanitarian aid workers and the pieces of training conducted for internal medicine practitioners to offer guidance on how to manage severe job-related stresses during the response to COVID-19 pandemic. This work reminds responders about their professional mission and purpose, but its extreme physical and mental demands can take a toll on their well-being and health. In CEs, the sheer volume of work and the emotional over-engagement tend to produce toxic fantasies (e.g., rescuer or helper fantasies), acting upon which threatens integrity of care and increases risks for both patients and providers. Accumulated fatigue and exposure to mass suffering and mortality can change the perceived value of life and increase reckless, risk-taking, and suicidal behaviors. Introducing a self-awareness framework prioritizes the awareness of the available choices and making situation-appropriate and informed decisions about balancing one’s own and others’ needs. The COVID-19 response has demonstrated that fostering peer supports, changing organizational culture, addressing self-awareness within a training and supervisory context, and strengthening supports for managers are important parts of disaster preparedness. It also revealed that more research is needed to better understand and meet the special psychological needs of healthcare responders.
Beckett’s narrator in The Unnamable spurns both tragedy’s undeserved pains and the counter-tragic theology and philosophies (Christianity, Platonism, Epicureanism, Stoicism, Skepticism) that aim to rationalize or overcome pain. Beckett’s character tries and fails to negate his humanity, imagining devolution to insentience. This chapter challenges Beckett scholarship that understands the Unnamable to be in search of mystical wordlessness and self-dissolution. Against the grain, it contends that the more Beckett’s narrator wages war on embodiment and language, the more he severs himself from all attachment to the world. His strategies, I suggest, might kindle the opposite desire in readers. This chapter proceeds to argue that Beckett rewrites this nihilistic character in Company, revisiting his tactics but supplying an alternative to them. Company’s narrator admits the attraction of a suicidal narrative strategy yet opts to resuscitate bonds with others by way of lyrical moments of memory.
Suicide risk in patients is markedly elevated during psychiatric inpatient care, as well as after discharge. However, it is unclear whether, and to what extent, this increased suicide risk varies between sex. Thus, the aim of this study was to analyze sex differences for suicides during and after psychiatric hospitalization in various countries.
National suicide mortality rates and inpatient-related suicide rates (three intervals: during psychiatric inpatient treatment, 1 month, and 1 year after discharge) from 12 countries for 2000–2016 were analyzed, and a logistic model was used to quantify the effect of sex.
Persons admitted to or discharged from psychiatric inpatient care exhibited significantly increased rates of suicide compared to those in the general population. Furthermore, increase of suicide risk was significantly higher for females than for males for all investigated time intervals (inpatient suicide odds ratio [OR] 1.85; suicide within 1 month after discharge—OR 1.94; suicide within 1 year after discharge—OR 2.04).
Analysis confirmed the time during and after psychiatric inpatient care to be significantly associated with an elevated risk for suicide. Further, a significant sex effect was observed, with females in this population being at a proportionally higher risk for suicide during psychiatric inpatient treatment as well as the year following discharge. Our study implicates that more effective suicide preventive measures during inpatient stay, focusing on female patients, are needed.
This article summarises key areas of research informing understanding of vulnerability factors and risk assessment and management across the lifespan, with particular reference to risk to self (self-harm and suicide). It relates the discussion to people attending sexual assault referral centres (SARCs), but is applicable in a range of clinical settings. Although people accessing SARCs often present with mental health difficulties and various other vulnerabilities, SARC practitioners often do not have specialist training in working with mental health difficulties, including individuals at risk to self. We discuss developmental differences that should be considered when assessing and managing risk to self, and examine relationships between mental health difficulties, risk to self, and rape and/or sexual assault. Finally, we offer advice on how to respond to risk presented by individuals who have experienced sexual violence.
This article considers the role that assessment of suicidal ideation may have in short-term prediction of suicide. Suicide risk assessment is a multifactorial process and it is assumed that assessment of suicidal ideation is one component. Denial that suicidal ideation has any useful role in risk assessment fails to allow for the marked ongoing short-term variability in severity of intent, which is a common feature of the suicidal state of mind. It is concluded that the assessment of suicidal ideation, provided it is carried out correctly and applied appropriately, should continue to be regarded as a central component of the overall prediction process. A ‘two-take’ approach to short-term risk assessment and mitigation is proposed that takes variability in severity of intent into account and includes anticipatory treatment planning for any problems that may occur in the near future.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an essential treatment for severe mental illnesses such as depression with suicidality and catatonia. However, its availability is being threatened by resource limitations and infection concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This may necessitate the triage of patients for ECT but there is no established ethical framework to prioritise patients. We offer an application of an ethical framework for use of scare medical resources in the ECT setting.
The age-adjusted rate of suicide death in the USA has increased significantly since 2000 and little is known about national trends in non-fatal suicidal behaviors (ideation, plan, and attempt) among adults and their associated sociodemographic and clinical characteristics. This study examined trends in non-fatal suicidal behaviors among adults in the USA.
Data were obtained from adults 18–65 years of age who participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), including mental health assessment, from 2009 to 2017 (n = 335 359). Examinations of data involved trend analysis methods with the use of logistic regressions and interaction terms.
Suicidal ideation showed fluctuation from 2009 to 2017, whereas suicide plan and attempt showed significantly positive linear trends with the odds increasing by an average of 3% and 4%, respectively. Suicide plan increased the most for females and adults ages 18–34, and attempt increased the most for adults with drug dependence. Both plan and attempt increased the most among adults who either had mental illness but were not in treatment or had no mental illness.
Given attempted suicide is the strongest known risk factor for suicide death, reducing non-fatal suicidal behaviors including attempt are important public health and clinical goals. The interactional findings of age, sex, mental health status, and drug dependence point toward the importance of tailoring prevention efforts to various sociodemographic and clinical factors.
A review of the literature demonstrates that relatively little is known about acute psychiatric presentations in children (0–12 years), compared with adolescents or young adults (12 years+). This study aims to review psychiatric presentations of children to a CAMHS Liaison Service at Children’s Hospital Ireland (CHI) at Tallaght University Hospital over a 10-year period.
A retrospective study was undertaken of case notes of all children aged 12 years and under who were referred to the CAMHS Liaison Service between January 2009 and December 2018 (n = 318). Data were anonymised and inputted into SPSSv25 for analysis. The relationships between presentations and methods of self-harm over time were measured using Pearson’s correlation. Associations between categorical variables were analysed using chi-squared tests.
There was a significant increase in presentations of under-12s over the 10-year period (r(8)=0.66, p = 0.02). There was also a significant increase in children presenting with a disturbance of conduct and/or emotions over time (r(8) = 0.79, p < 0.001). There was a significant association between female gender and ingestion (X2 = 12.73, df = 1, p < 0.05) and between male gender and ligature as a method of self-harm (X2 = 5.54, df = 1, p < 0.05). Over half (53%) of children presented with suicidal thoughts and 22% presented with suicidal behaviours. The reported use of ligature as a method of self-harm emerged only from 2012 among cases studied.
Children aged 12 years and under are presenting in increasing numbers with acute mental health difficulties, including suicidal thoughts and behaviours. There is a worrying trend in methods of self-harm, particularly in high lethality behaviours such as attempted strangulation.
Longitudinal studies of patterns of healthcare contacts in those who die by suicide to identify those at risk are scarce.
To examine type and timing of healthcare contacts in those who die by suicide.
A population-based electronic case–control study of all who died by suicide in Wales, 2001–2017, linking individuals’ electronic healthcare records from general practices, emergency departments and hospitals. We used conditional logistic regression to calculate odds ratios, adjusted for deprivation. We performed a retrospective continuous longitudinal analysis comparing cases’ and controls’ contacts with health services.
We matched 5130 cases with 25 650 controls (5 per case). A representative cohort of 1721 cases (8605 controls) were eligible for the fully linked analysis. In the week before their death, 31.4% of cases and 15.6% of controls contacted health services. The last point of contact was most commonly associated with mental health and most often occurred in general practices. In the month before their death, 16.6 and 13.0% of cases had an emergency department contact and a hospital admission respectively, compared with 5.5 and 4.2% of controls. At any week in the year before their death, cases were more likely to contact healthcare services than controls. Self-harm, mental health and substance misuse contacts were strongly linked with suicide risk, more so when they occurred in emergency departments or as emergency admissions.
Help-seeking occurs in those at risk of suicide and escalates in the weeks before their death. There is an opportunity to identify and intervene through these contacts.
The prevalence of mental health conditions and national suicide rates are increasing in many countries. Lithium is widely and effectively used in pharmacological doses for the treatment and prevention of manic/depressive episodes, stabilising mood and reducing the risk of suicide. Since the 1990s, several ecological studies have tested the hypothesis that trace doses of naturally occurring lithium in drinking water may have a protective effect against suicide in the general population.
To synthesise the global evidence on the association between lithium levels in drinking water and suicide mortality rates.
The MEDLINE, Embase, Web of Science and PsycINFO databases were searched to identify eligible ecological studies published between 1 January 1946 and 10 September 2018. Standardised regression coefficients for total (i.e. both genders combined), male and female suicide mortality rates were extracted and pooled using random-effects meta-analysis. The study was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42016041375).
The literature search identified 415 articles; of these, 15 ecological studies were included in the synthesis. The random-effects meta-analysis showed a consistent protective (or inverse) association between lithium levels/concentration in publicly available drinking water and total (pooled β = −0.27, 95% CI −0.47 to −0.08; P = 0.006, I2 = 83.3%), male (pooled β = −0.26, 95% CI −0.56 to 0.03; P = 0.08, I2 = 91.9%) and female (pooled β = −0.13, 95% CI −0.24 to −0.02; P = 0.03, I2 = 28.5%) suicide mortality rates. A similar protective association was observed in the six studies included in the narrative synthesis, and subgroup meta-analyses based on the higher/lower suicide mortality rates and lithium levels/concentration.
This synthesis of ecological studies, which are subject to the ecological fallacy/bias, supports the hypothesis that there is a protective (or inverse) association between lithium intakes from public drinking water and suicide mortality at the population level. Naturally occurring lithium in drinking water may have the potential to reduce the risk of suicide and may possibly help in mood stabilisation, particularly in populations with relatively high suicide rates and geographical areas with a greater range of lithium concentration in the drinking water. All the available evidence suggests that randomised community trials of lithium supplementation of the water supply might be a means of testing the hypothesis, particularly in communities (or settings) with demonstrated high prevalence of mental health conditions, violent criminal behaviour, chronic substance misuse and risk of suicide.
Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are at increased risk for suicide attempt (SA) compared to the general population. However, the significant risk factors for SA in this population remains unclear – whether these factors are associated with the disorder itself or related to extrinsic factors, such as comorbidities and sociodemographic variables. This study aimed to identify predictors of SA in OCD patients using a machine learning algorithm.
A total of 959 outpatients with OCD were included. An elastic net model was performed to recognize the predictors of SA among OCD patients, using clinical and sociodemographic variables.
The prevalence of SA in our sample was 10.8%. Relevant predictors of SA founded by the elastic net algorithm were the following: previous suicide planning, previous suicide thoughts, lifetime depressive episode, and intermittent explosive disorder. Our elastic net model had a good performance and found an area under the curve of 0.95.
This is the first study to evaluate risk factors for SA among OCD patients using machine learning algorithms. Our results demonstrate an accurate risk algorithm can be created using clinical and sociodemographic variables. All aspects of suicidal phenomena need to be carefully investigated by clinicians in every evaluation of OCD patients. Particular attention should be given to comorbidity with depressive symptoms.
This study explored patterns of abuse, self-harm and thoughts of suicide/self-harm in the UK during the first month of the COVID-19 pandemic using data from the COVID-19 Social Study (n=44 775), a non-probability sample weighted to population proportions. The reported frequency of abuse, self-harm and thoughts of suicide/self-harm was higher among women, Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups and people experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage, unemployment, disability, chronic physical illnesses, mental disorders and COVID-19 diagnosis. Psychiatric medications were the most common type of support being used, but fewer than half of those affected were accessing formal or informal support.
Since 1999, the rate of fatal prescription opioid overdoses and of suicides has dramatically increased in the USA. These increases, which have occurred among similar demographic groups, have led to the hypothesis that the opioid epidemic contributed to increases in suicidal behavior, though the underlying association remains poorly defined. We examine the association between nonmedical use of prescription opioids/opioid use disorder and suicidal ideation/attempts.
We used longitudinal data from a national representative sample of the US adult population, the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Participants (n = 34 653) were interviewed in 2001–2002 (wave 1) and re-interviewed approximately 3 years later (wave 2). A propensity score analysis estimated the association between exposure to prescription opioids at wave 1 and prevalent/incident suicidal behavior at wave 2.
Heavy/frequent (⩾2–3 times a month) prescription opioid use was associated with prevalent suicide attempts [adjusted risk ratio (ARR) = 2.75, 95% CI 1.35–5.60]. Prescription opioid use disorder was associated with prevalent (ARR = 1.98, 95% CI 1.20–3.28) and incident suicidal ideation (ARR = 2.59, 95% CI 1.25–5.37), and prevalent attempts (ARR = 4.19, 95% CI 1.71–10.27). None of the exposures was associated with incident suicide attempts.
Heavy/frequent opioid use and related disorder were associated with prevalent suicide attempts; opioid use disorder was also associated with the incident and prevalent suicidal ideation. Given population increases in nonmedical use of prescription opioids and disorder, the opioid crisis may have contributed to population increases in suicidal ideation.
A few previous studies suggest that a large number of individuals do not present at hospital following a suicide attempt, complicating recurrence prevention and prevalence estimation.
Data were extracted from a regular phone survey in representative samples of the French population aged 18–75 years old. Five surveys between 2000 and 2017 collected data about the occurrence of a previous suicide attempt and subsequent care contacts. A total of 102,729 individuals were surveyed. Among them, 6,500 (6.4%) reported a lifetime history of suicide attempt.
Following their last suicide attempt, 39.3% reported they did not present to hospital (53.4% in 18–24 year-olds), with limited changes in rates with time. Risk factors for non-presentation were being male [adjusted odds ratio = 1.3, 95% confidence interval (1.1–1.5)], living with someone [1.2 (1.0–1.4)], being a non-smoker [1.4 (1.2–1.6)], and being younger at time of attempt [0.97 (0.96–0.98) per year]. Of those who did not present to hospital, only 37.7% reported visiting a doctor or a psychiatrist/psychologist after their act v. 67.1% in those who presented to hospital (as a second health contact). In both cases, half disclosed their act to someone else. Prevalence rates of suicide attempts reported in community were 4.6 times higher than those in hospital administrative databases.
This survey at a national level confirmed that a large proportion of individuals does not go to the hospital and does not meet any health care professionals following a suicidal act. Assessment of unmet needs is necessary.