Half of People Who Commit Suicide Have No Psychiatric Diagnosis
A recent study shows that even though 83% of people who commit suicide have had healthcare services in the year before their deaths, only about half of these had a mental health diagnosis.
The research, published in the February 2014 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine used longitudinal data from the Mental Health Research Network (MHRN), a multi-state consortium of HMOs serving over 11 million people.
Nearly 6,000 suicides were identified in this population over a 10-year period. Of these, half had actually seen a healthcare professional within the month prior to suicide, but only 24% of these had a psychiatric diagnosis, illustrating a greater need to screen for suicidality in the primary-care setting.
Furthermore, the suicide victims who had received healthcare services in the year prior to death were more likely to be women, older age (65+), and of higher socioeconomic status. The researchers also concluded that greater outreach should be made to target younger age groups and men in suicide-prevention efforts.
Research Agenda Aims to Cut Suicide Rate by 20%
The Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has released the details of a research plan aimed at reducing suicides in the US by 20% in five years. The public/private partnership (which works through grants from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA] and the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS]) examined the research that shows the most promise in reducing suicides and identified where gaps in current suicide research exist.
They have organized their agenda around six key questions:
- 1. Why do people become suicidal?
- 2. How can we better or optimally detect/predict risk?
- 3. What interventions are effective? What prevents individuals from engaging in suicidal behavior?
- 4. What other types of preventive interventions (outside health care systems) reduce suicide risk?
- 5. What new and existing research infrastructure is needed to reduce suicidal behavior?
Dr. Tom Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the public sector co-lead for this project, wrote on his blog on February 5, 2014, that while the death rates for conditions such as heart disease and cancer continue to decrease, the rate of death by suicide has not changed. “This grim reality contrasts with the successes achieved in other areas of medicine and prevention,” he wrote. “To reduce suicide, we need to know how to target our efforts: to be able to reliably identify who is at risk, how to reach them, and how to deter them from acting on suicidal thoughts.”