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Young people are most vulnerable to suicidal behaviours but least likely to seek help. A more elaborate study of the intrinsic and extrinsic correlates of suicidal ideation and behaviours particularly amid ongoing population-level stressors and the identification of less stigmatising markers in representative youth populations is essential.
Participants (n = 2540, aged 15–25) were consecutively recruited from an ongoing large-scale household-based epidemiological youth mental health study in Hong Kong between September 2019 and 2021. Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of suicidal ideation, plan, and attempt were assessed, alongside suicide-related rumination, hopelessness and neuroticism, personal and population-level stressors, family functioning, cognitive ability, lifetime non-suicidal self-harm, 12-month major depressive disorder (MDD), and alcohol use.
The 12-month prevalence of suicidal ideation, ideation-only (no plan or attempt), plan, and attempt was 20.0, 15.4, 4.6, and 1.3%, respectively. Importantly, multivariable logistic regression findings revealed that suicide-related rumination was the only factor associated with all four suicidal outcomes (all p < 0.01). Among those with suicidal ideation (two-stage approach), intrinsic factors, including suicide-related rumination, poorer cognitive ability, and 12-month MDE, were specifically associated with suicide plan, while extrinsic factors, including coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) stressors, poorer family functioning, and personal life stressors, as well as non-suicidal self-harm, were specifically associated with suicide attempt.
Suicide-related rumination, population-level COVID-19 stressors, and poorer family functioning may be important less-stigmatising markers for youth suicidal risks. The respective roles played by not only intrinsic but also extrinsic factors in suicide plan and attempt using a two-stage approach should be considered in future preventative intervention work.
Racial and ethnic groups in the USA differ in the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Recent research however has not observed consistent racial/ethnic differences in posttraumatic stress in the early aftermath of trauma, suggesting that such differences in chronic PTSD rates may be related to differences in recovery over time.
As part of the multisite, longitudinal AURORA study, we investigated racial/ethnic differences in PTSD and related outcomes within 3 months after trauma. Participants (n = 930) were recruited from emergency departments across the USA and provided periodic (2 weeks, 8 weeks, and 3 months after trauma) self-report assessments of PTSD, depression, dissociation, anxiety, and resilience. Linear models were completed to investigate racial/ethnic differences in posttraumatic dysfunction with subsequent follow-up models assessing potential effects of prior life stressors.
Racial/ethnic groups did not differ in symptoms over time; however, Black participants showed reduced posttraumatic depression and anxiety symptoms overall compared to Hispanic participants and White participants. Racial/ethnic differences were not attenuated after accounting for differences in sociodemographic factors. However, racial/ethnic differences in depression and anxiety were no longer significant after accounting for greater prior trauma exposure and childhood emotional abuse in White participants.
The present findings suggest prior differences in previous trauma exposure partially mediate the observed racial/ethnic differences in posttraumatic depression and anxiety symptoms following a recent trauma. Our findings further demonstrate that racial/ethnic groups show similar rates of symptom recovery over time. Future work utilizing longer time-scale data is needed to elucidate potential racial/ethnic differences in long-term symptom trajectories.
Bipolar disorder is associated with premature mortality, but evidence is mostly derived from Western countries. There has been no research evaluating shortened lifespan in bipolar disorder using life-years lost (LYLs), which is a recently developed mortality metric taking into account illness onset for life expectancy estimation. The current study aimed to examine the extent of premature mortality in bipolar disorder patients relative to the general population in Hong Kong (HK) in terms of standardised mortality ratio (SMR) and excess LYLs, and changes of mortality rate over time.
This population-based cohort study investigated excess mortality in 12 556 bipolar disorder patients between 2008 and 2018, by estimating all-cause and cause-specific SMRs, and LYLs. Trends in annual SMRs over the 11-year study period were assessed. Study data were retrieved from a territory-wide medical-record database of HK public healthcare services.
Patients had higher all-cause [SMR: 2.60 (95% CI: 2.45–2.76)], natural-cause [SMR: 1.90 (95% CI: 1.76–2.05)] and unnatural-cause [SMR: 8.63 (95% CI: 7.34–10.03)] mortality rates than the general population. Respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancers accounted for the majority of deaths. Men and women with bipolar disorder had 6.78 (95% CI: 6.00–7.84) years and 7.35 (95% CI: 6.75–8.06) years of excess LYLs, respectively. The overall mortality gap remained similar over time, albeit slightly improved in men with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is associated with increased premature mortality and substantially reduced lifespan in a predominantly Chinese population, with excess deaths mainly attributed to natural causes. Persistent mortality gap underscores an urgent need for targeted interventions to improve physical health of patients with bipolar disorder.
Brief measurements of the subjective experience of stress with good predictive capability are important in a range of community mental health and research settings. The potential for large-scale implementation of such a measure for screening may facilitate early risk detection and intervention opportunities. Few such measures however have been developed and validated in epidemiological and longitudinal community samples. We designed a new single-item measure of the subjective level of stress (SLS-1) and tested its validity and ability to predict long-term mental health outcomes of up to 12 months through two separate studies.
We first examined the content and face validity of the SLS-1 with a panel consisting of mental health experts and laypersons. Two studies were conducted to examine its validity and predictive utility. In study 1, we tested the convergent and divergent validity as well as incremental validity of the SLS-1 in a large epidemiological sample of young people in Hong Kong (n = 1445). In study 2, in a consecutively recruited longitudinal community sample of young people (n = 258), we first performed the same procedures as in study 1 to ensure replicability of the findings. We then examined in this longitudinal sample the utility of the SLS-1 in predicting long-term depressive, anxiety and stress outcomes assessed at 3 months and 6 months (n = 182) and at 12 months (n = 84).
The SLS-1 demonstrated good content and face validity. Findings from the two studies showed that SLS-1 was moderately to strongly correlated with a range of mental health outcomes, including depressive, anxiety, stress and distress symptoms. We also demonstrated its ability to explain the variance explained in symptoms beyond other known personal and psychological factors. Using the longitudinal sample in study 2, we further showed the significant predictive capability of the SLS-1 for long-term symptom outcomes for up to 12 months even when accounting for demographic characteristics.
The findings altogether support the validity and predictive utility of the SLS-1 as a brief measure of stress with strong indications of both concurrent and long-term mental health outcomes. Given the value of brief measures of mental health risks at a population level, the SLS-1 may have potential for use as an early screening tool to inform early preventative intervention work.
Gravitational waves from coalescing neutron stars encode information about nuclear matter at extreme densities, inaccessible by laboratory experiments. The late inspiral is influenced by the presence of tides, which depend on the neutron star equation of state. Neutron star mergers are expected to often produce rapidly rotating remnant neutron stars that emit gravitational waves. These will provide clues to the extremely hot post-merger environment. This signature of nuclear matter in gravitational waves contains most information in the 2–4 kHz frequency band, which is outside of the most sensitive band of current detectors. We present the design concept and science case for a Neutron Star Extreme Matter Observatory (NEMO): a gravitational-wave interferometer optimised to study nuclear physics with merging neutron stars. The concept uses high-circulating laser power, quantum squeezing, and a detector topology specifically designed to achieve the high-frequency sensitivity necessary to probe nuclear matter using gravitational waves. Above 1 kHz, the proposed strain sensitivity is comparable to full third-generation detectors at a fraction of the cost. Such sensitivity changes expected event rates for detection of post-merger remnants from approximately one per few decades with two A+ detectors to a few per year and potentially allow for the first gravitational-wave observations of supernovae, isolated neutron stars, and other exotica.
Abnormal effort-based decision-making represents a potential mechanism underlying motivational deficits (amotivation) in psychotic disorders. Previous research identified effort allocation impairment in chronic schizophrenia and focused mostly on physical effort modality. No study has investigated cognitive effort allocation in first-episode psychosis (FEP).
Cognitive effort allocation was examined in 40 FEP patients and 44 demographically-matched healthy controls, using Cognitive Effort-Discounting (COGED) paradigm which quantified participants’ willingness to expend cognitive effort in terms of explicit, continuous discounting of monetary rewards based on parametrically-varied cognitive demands (levels N of N-back task). Relationship between reward-discounting and amotivation was investigated. Group differences in reward-magnitude and effort-cost sensitivity, and differential associations of these sensitivity indices with amotivation were explored.
Patients displayed significantly greater reward-discounting than controls. In particular, such discounting was most pronounced in patients with high levels of amotivation even when N-back performance and reward base amount were taken into consideration. Moreover, patients exhibited reduced reward-benefit sensitivity and effort-cost sensitivity relative to controls, and that decreased sensitivity to reward-benefit but not effort-cost was correlated with diminished motivation. Reward-discounting and sensitivity indices were generally unrelated to other symptom dimensions, antipsychotic dose and cognitive deficits.
This study provides the first evidence of cognitive effort-based decision-making impairment in FEP, and indicates that decreased effort expenditure is associated with amotivation. Our findings further suggest that abnormal effort allocation and amotivation might primarily be related to blunted reward valuation. Prospective research is required to clarify the utility of effort-based measures in predicting amotivation and functional outcome in FEP.
Better understanding of interplay among symptoms, cognition and functioning in first-episode psychosis (FEP) is crucial to promoting functional recovery. Network analysis is a promising data-driven approach to elucidating complex interactions among psychopathological variables in psychosis, but has not been applied in FEP.
This study employed network analysis to examine inter-relationships among a wide array of variables encompassing psychopathology, premorbid and onset characteristics, cognition, subjective quality-of-life and psychosocial functioning in 323 adult FEP patients in Hong Kong. Graphical Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (LASSO) combined with extended Bayesian information criterion (BIC) model selection was used for network construction. Importance of individual nodes in a generated network was quantified by centrality analyses.
Our results showed that amotivation played the most central role and had the strongest associations with other variables in the network, as indexed by node strength. Amotivation and diminished expression displayed differential relationships with other nodes, supporting the validity of two-factor negative symptom structure. Psychosocial functioning was most strongly connected with amotivation and was weakly linked to several other variables. Within cognitive domain, digit span demonstrated the highest centrality and was connected with most of the other cognitive variables. Exploratory analysis revealed no significant gender differences in network structure and global strength.
Our results suggest the pivotal role of amotivation in psychopathology network of FEP and indicate its critical association with psychosocial functioning. Further research is required to verify the clinical significance of diminished motivation on functional outcome in the early course of psychotic illness.
The second Singapore Mental Health Study (SMHS) – a nationwide, cross-sectional, epidemiological survey - was initiated in 2016 with the intent of tracking the state of mental health of the general population in Singapore. The study employed the same methodology as the first survey initiated in 2010. The SMHS 2016 aimed to (i) establish the 12-month and lifetime prevalence and correlates of major depressive disorder (MDD), dysthymia, bipolar disorder, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) (which included alcohol abuse and dependence) and (ii) compare the prevalence of these disorders with reference to data from the SMHS 2010.
Door-to-door household surveys were conducted with adult Singapore residents aged 18 years and above from 2016 to 2018 (n = 6126) which yielded a response rate of 69.0%. The subjects were randomly selected using a disproportionate stratified sampling method and assessed using World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview version 3.0 (WHO-CIDI 3.0). The diagnoses of lifetime and 12-month selected mental disorders including MDD, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, GAD, OCD, and AUD (alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence), were based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria.
The lifetime prevalence of at least one mood, anxiety or alcohol use disorder was 13.9% in the adult population. MDD had the highest lifetime prevalence (6.3%) followed by alcohol abuse (4.1%). The 12-month prevalence of any DSM-IV mental disorders was 6.5%. OCD had the highest 12-month prevalence (2.9%) followed by MDD (2.3%). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of mental disorders assessed in SMHS 2016 (13.8% and 6.4%) was significantly higher than that in SMHS 2010 (12.0% and 4.4%). A significant increase was observed in the prevalence of lifetime GAD (0.9% to 1.6%) and alcohol abuse (3.1% to 4.1%). The 12-month prevalence of GAD (0.8% vs. 0.4%) and OCD (2.9% vs. 1.1%) was significantly higher in SMHS 2016 as compared to SMHS 2010.
The high prevalence of OCD and the increase across the two surveys needs to be tackled at a population level both in terms of creating awareness of the disorder and the need for early treatment. Youth emerge as a vulnerable group who are more likely to be associated with mental disorders and thus targeted interventions in this group with a focus on youth friendly and accessible care centres may lead to earlier detection and treatment of mental disorders.
The discovery of the first electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave signal has generated follow-up observations by over 50 facilities world-wide, ushering in the new era of multi-messenger astronomy. In this paper, we present follow-up observations of the gravitational wave event GW170817 and its electromagnetic counterpart SSS17a/DLT17ck (IAU label AT2017gfo) by 14 Australian telescopes and partner observatories as part of Australian-based and Australian-led research programs. We report early- to late-time multi-wavelength observations, including optical imaging and spectroscopy, mid-infrared imaging, radio imaging, and searches for fast radio bursts. Our optical spectra reveal that the transient source emission cooled from approximately 6 400 K to 2 100 K over a 7-d period and produced no significant optical emission lines. The spectral profiles, cooling rate, and photometric light curves are consistent with the expected outburst and subsequent processes of a binary neutron star merger. Star formation in the host galaxy probably ceased at least a Gyr ago, although there is evidence for a galaxy merger. Binary pulsars with short (100 Myr) decay times are therefore unlikely progenitors, but pulsars like PSR B1534+12 with its 2.7 Gyr coalescence time could produce such a merger. The displacement (~2.2 kpc) of the binary star system from the centre of the main galaxy is not unusual for stars in the host galaxy or stars originating in the merging galaxy, and therefore any constraints on the kick velocity imparted to the progenitor are poor.
Knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of the population regarding severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) in endemic areas of Lu'an in China were assessed before and after an intervention programme. The pre-intervention phase was conducted using a sample of 425 participants from the 12 selected villages with the highest rates of endemic SFTS infection. A predesigned interview questionnaire was used to assess KAP. Subsequently, an intervention programme was designed and applied in the selected villages. KAP was re-assessed for each population in the selected villages using the same interview questionnaire. Following 2 months of the programme, 339 participants had completed the re-assessed survey. The impact of the intervention programme was evaluated using suitable statistical methods. A significant increase in the KAP and total KAP scores was noted following the intervention programme, whereas the proportion of correct knowledge, the positive attitudes and the effective practices toward SFTS of respondents increased significantly. The intervention programme was effective in improving KAP level of SFTS in populations that were resident in endemic areas.
Detrimental effects of ultraviolet (UV) light on living organisms are well understood, little is known about the effects of blue light irradiation. Although a recent study revealed that blue light caused more harmful effects on insects than UV light and blue light irradiation killed insect pests of various orders including Diptera, the effects of blue light on physiology of insects are still largely unknown. Here we studied the effects of blue light irradiation on cuticular melanin in larval and the immune response in adult stage of Bactrocera dorsalis. We also evaluated the effects of blue light exposure in larval stage on various age and mass at metamorphosis and the mediatory role of cuticular melanin in carryover effects of larval stressors across metamorphosis. We found that larvae exposed to blue light decreased melanin contents in their exoskeleton with smaller mass and delayed metamorphosis than insects reared without blue light exposure. Across metamorphosis, lower melanotic encapsulation response and higher susceptibility to Beauveria bassiana was detected in adults that had been exposed to blue light at their larval stage, thereby constituting the first evidence that blue light impaired adult immune function in B. dorsalis as a carryover effect of larval exposure.
Macdunnoughia crassisigna Warren (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) is a highly destructive herbivore that poses a serious risk to cotton, maize, soybean, and cruciferous vegetables in East Asia. Examining the effects of various biotic and abiotic factors on the flight performance of M. crassisigna is crucial for a better understanding of its trans-regional migration. In this study, the flight activity of M. crassisignai moths of different ages, under different temperatures and relative humidity (RH) levels, was evaluated by tethering individuals to computerized flight mills for a 24-h trial period. The results showed that M. crassisignai had the capacity for sustained flight and the flight ability was strongest in 3-day-old individuals, and then their flight performance decreased significantly in older moths. For both sexes, temperature had a significant effect on their flight performance, and the flight activity was relatively higher at 24–28°C than other temperatures. There was a significant effect of RH on all flight parameters of the tested moths, and the flight activity was relatively higher at RH of 60–75% than other RH levels. For 3-day-old moths under the optimum conditions (24°C and 75% RH) throughout the 24 h scotophase, their mean flight distance reached 66 km, and the mean flight duration reached 13.5 h, suggesting M. crassisigna possess strong potential to undertake long-distance migration. These findings will be helpful for developing sound forecasting systems of this pest species.
Better understanding of the complex interplay among key determinants of functional outcome is crucial to promoting recovery in psychotic disorders. However, this is understudied in the early course of illness. We aimed to examine the relationships among negative symptoms, neurocognition, general self-efficacy and global functioning in first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients using structural equation modeling (SEM).
Three hundred and twenty-one Chinese patients aged 26–55 years presenting with FEP to an early intervention program in Hong Kong were recruited. Assessments encompassing symptom profiles, functioning, perceived general self-efficacy and a battery of neurocognitive tests were conducted. Negative symptom measurement was subdivided into amotivation and diminished expression (DE) domain scores based on the ratings in the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms.
An initial SEM model showed no significant association between functioning and DE which was removed from further analysis. A final trimmed model yielded very good model fit (χ2 = 15.48, p = 0.63; comparative fit index = 1.00; root mean square error of approximation <0.001) and demonstrated that amotivation, neurocognition and general self-efficacy had a direct effect on global functioning. Amotivation was also found to mediate a significant indirect effect of neurocognition and general self-efficacy on functioning. Neurocognition was not significantly related to general self-efficacy.
Our results indicate a critical intermediary role of amotivation in linking neurocognitive impairment to functioning in FEP. General self-efficacy may represent a promising treatment target for improvement of motivational deficits and functional outcome in the early illness stage.
Relapse is distressingly common after the first episode of psychosis, yet it is poorly understood and difficult to predict. Investigating changes in cognitive function preceding relapse may provide new insights into the underlying mechanism of relapse in psychosis. We hypothesized that relapse in fully remitted first-episode psychosis patients was preceded by working memory deterioration.
Visual memory and verbal working memory were monitored prospectively in a 1-year randomized controlled trial of remitted first-episode psychosis patients assigned to medication continuation (quetiapine 400 mg/day) or discontinuation (placebo). Relapse (recurrence of positive symptoms of psychosis), visual (Visual Patterns Test) and verbal (Letter–Number span test) working memory and stressful life events were assessed monthly.
Remitted first-episode patients (n = 102) participated in the study. Relapsers (n = 53) and non-relapsers (n = 49) had similar baseline demographic and clinical profiles. Logistic regression analyses indicated relapse was associated with visual working memory deterioration 2 months before relapse [odds ratio (OR) 3.07, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.19–7.92, P = 0.02], more stressful life events 1 month before relapse (OR 2.11, 95% CI 1.20–3.72, P = 0.01) and medication discontinuation (OR 5.52, 95% CI 2.08–14.62, P = 0.001).
Visual working memory deterioration beginning 2 months before relapse in remitted first-episode psychosis patients (not baseline predictor) may reflect early brain dysfunction that heralds a psychotic relapse. The deterioration was found to be unrelated to a worsening of psychotic symptoms preceding relapse. Testable predictors offer insight into the brain processes underlying relapse in psychosis.
Population decline resulting from agricultural intensification led to contraction of the range of the cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus in the UK to a small area of south Devon. As part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan for the species, a project to re-establish a population in suitable habitat in Cornwall was undertaken during 2006–2011, in which chicks were removed from the nest in Devon, hand-reared and then delayed-released. The survival of the birds to four time points in the year after release was analysed in relation to the effect of rearing factors, using a multivariable logistic regression model. Individuals with higher body weight at capture were more likely to survive to 1 January and 1 May in the year following release, and individuals released in June and July were more likely to survive than those released in August. Individuals released in 2006 and 2011 had a higher survival rate than those released during 2007–2010. Timing of capture, time spent at each stage in captivity, medication and the detection of parasites in the brood had no significant effect. Immunosuppressive disease, weather factors and predator activity may have led to some of the observed differences in survival. This analysis provides evidence with which to plan future translocation projects for cirl buntings and other passerine birds.
A trend toward greater body size in dizygotic (DZ) than in monozygotic (MZ) twins has been suggested by some but not all studies, and this difference may also vary by age. We analyzed zygosity differences in mean values and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) among male and female twins from infancy to old age. Data were derived from an international database of 54 twin cohorts participating in the COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins), and included 842,951 height and BMI measurements from twins aged 1 to 102 years. The results showed that DZ twins were consistently taller than MZ twins, with differences of up to 2.0 cm in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.9 cm in adulthood. Similarly, a greater mean BMI of up to 0.3 kg/m2 in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.2 kg/m2 in adulthood was observed in DZ twins, although the pattern was less consistent. DZ twins presented up to 1.7% greater height and 1.9% greater BMI than MZ twins; these percentage differences were largest in middle and late childhood and decreased with age in both sexes. The variance of height was similar in MZ and DZ twins at most ages. In contrast, the variance of BMI was significantly higher in DZ than in MZ twins, particularly in childhood. In conclusion, DZ twins were generally taller and had greater BMI than MZ twins, but the differences decreased with age in both sexes.