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Concept: Suicide


Several past studies have found that media reports of suicides and homicides appear to subsequently increase the incidence of similar events in the community, apparently due to the coverage planting the seeds of ideation in at-risk individuals to commit similar acts.

Concepts: Suicide, Mass murder


Violence has important health effects. The results of exposure to physical violence include, but may not be limited to, death from suicide and homicide. The connection between the experience of assault and risk of death from causes other than homicide and suicide has rarely been examined.

Concepts: Domestic violence, Epidemiology, Death, Violence, Suicide, Terrorism, Murder, Nelson Erazo


The possible therapeutic impact of dietary changes on existing mental illness is largely unknown. Using a randomised controlled trial design, we aimed to investigate the efficacy of a dietary improvement program for the treatment of major depressive episodes.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Schizophrenia, Major depressive disorder, Major depressive episode, Dysthymia, Depression, Suicide, Sickness behavior


Suicide is a major and continuing public health concern in the United States. During 1999-2015, approximately 600,000 U.S. residents died by suicide, with the highest annual rate occurring in 2015 (1). Annual county-level mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) and annual county-level population data from the U.S. Census Bureau were used to analyze suicide rate trends during 1999-2015, with special emphasis on comparing more urban and less urban areas. U.S. counties were grouped by level of urbanization using a six-level classification scheme. To evaluate rate trends, joinpoint regression methodology was applied to the time-series data for each level of urbanization. Suicide rates significantly increased over the study period for all county groupings and accelerated significantly in 2007-2008 for the medium metro, small metro, and non-metro groupings. Understanding suicide trends by urbanization level can help identify geographic areas of highest risk and focus prevention efforts. Communities can benefit from implementing policies, programs, and practices based on the best available evidence regarding suicide prevention and key risk factors. Many approaches are applicable regardless of urbanization level, whereas certain strategies might be particularly relevant in less urban areas affected by difficult economic conditions, limited access to helping services, and social isolation.

Concepts: Demography, Population, United States, Urban area, Washington, D.C., Suicide, Philadelphia, United States Census


Suicides are a leading cause of death in psychiatric patients, and in society at large. Developing more quantitative and objective ways (biomarkers) for predicting and tracking suicidal states would have immediate practical applications and positive societal implications. We undertook such an endeavor. First, building on our previous blood biomarker work in mood disorders and psychosis, we decided to identify blood gene expression biomarkers for suicidality, looking at differential expression of genes in the blood of subjects with a major mood disorder (bipolar disorder), a high-risk population prone to suicidality. We compared no suicidal ideation (SI) states and high SI states using a powerful intrasubject design, as well as an intersubject case-case design, to generate a list of differentially expressed genes. Second, we used a comprehensive Convergent Functional Genomics (CFG) approach to identify and prioritize from the list of differentially expressed gene biomarkers of relevance to suicidality. CFG integrates multiple independent lines of evidence-genetic and functional genomic data-as a Bayesian strategy for identifying and prioritizing findings, reducing the false-positives and false-negatives inherent in each individual approach. Third, we examined whether expression levels of the blood biomarkers identified by us in the live bipolar subject cohort are actually altered in the blood in an age-matched cohort of suicide completers collected from the coroner’s office, and report that 13 out of the 41 top CFG scoring biomarkers (32%) show step-wise significant change from no SI to high SI states, and then to the suicide completers group. Six out of them (15%) remained significant after strict Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons. Fourth, we show that the blood levels of SAT1 (spermidine/spermine N1-acetyltransferase 1), the top biomarker identified by us, at the time of testing for this study, differentiated future as well as past hospitalizations with suicidality, in a live cohort of bipolar disorder subjects, and exhibited a similar but weaker pattern in a live cohort of psychosis (schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder) subjects. Three other (phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), myristoylated alanine-rich protein kinase C substrate (MARCKS), and mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase 3 (MAP3K3)) of the six biomarkers that survived Bonferroni correction showed similar but weaker effects. Taken together, the prospective and retrospective hospitalization data suggests SAT1, PTEN, MARCKS and MAP3K3 might be not only state biomarkers but trait biomarkers as well. Fifth, we show how a multi-dimensional approach using SAT1 blood expression levels and two simple visual-analog scales for anxiety and mood enhances predictions of future hospitalizations for suicidality in the bipolar cohort (receiver-operating characteristic curve with area under the curve of 0.813). Of note, this simple approach does not directly ask about SI, which some individuals may deny or choose not to share with clinicians. Lastly, we conducted bioinformatic analyses to identify biological pathways, mechanisms and medication targets. Overall, suicidality may be underlined, at least in part, by biological mechanisms related to stress, inflammation and apoptosis.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 20 August 2013; doi:10.1038/mp.2013.95.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Organism, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Suicide


The Germanwings Flight 9525 crash has brought the sensitive subject of airline pilot mental health to the forefront in aviation. Globally, 350 million people suffer from depression-a common mental disorder. This study provides further information on this important topic regarding mental health especially among female airline pilots. This is the first study to describe airline pilot mental health-with a focus on depression and suicidal thoughts-outside of the information derived from aircraft accident investigations, regulated health examinations, or identifiable self-reports, which are records protected by civil aviation authorities and airline companies.

Concepts: Psychology, Mental disorder, Suicide, Aircraft, Aviator, Airline, International Civil Aviation Organization, Civil aviation


BACKGROUND:Ecological studies support the hypothesis that suicide may be “contagious” (i.e., exposure to suicide may increase the risk of suicide and related outcomes). However, this association has not been adequately assessed in prospective studies. We sought to determine the association between exposure to suicide and suicidality outcomes in Canadian youth. METHODS:We used baseline information from the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth between 1998/99 and 2006/07 with follow-up assessments 2 years later. We included all respondents aged 12-17 years in cycles 3-7 with reported measures of exposure to suicide. RESULTS:We included 8766 youth aged 12-13 years, 7802 aged 14-15 years and 5496 aged 16-17 years. Exposure to a schoolmate’s suicide was associated with ideation at baseline among respondents aged 12-13 years (odds ratio [OR] 5.06, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.04-8.40), 14-15 years (OR 2.93, 95% CI 2.02-4.24) and 16-17 years (OR 2.23, 95% CI 1.43-3.48). Such exposure was associated with attempts among respondents aged 12-13 years (OR 4.57, 95% CI 2.39-8.71), 14-15 years (OR 3.99, 95% CI 2.46-6.45) and 16-17 years (OR 3.22, 95% CI 1.62-6.41). Personally knowing someone who died by suicide was associated with suicidality outcomes for all age groups. We also assessed 2-year outcomes among respondents aged 12-15 years: a schoolmate’s suicide predicted suicide attempts among participants aged 12-13 years (OR 3.07, 95% CI 1.05-8.96) and 14-15 years (OR 2.72, 95% CI 1.47-5.04). Among those who reported a schoolmate’s suicide, personally knowing the decedent did not alter the risk of suicidality. INTERPRETATION:We found that exposure to suicide predicts suicide ideation and attempts. Our results support school-wide interventions over current targeted interventions, particularly over strategies that target interventions toward children closest to the decedent.

Concepts: Death, Bipolar disorder, Suicide, The Complete Manual of Suicide, Parasuicide


BACKGROUND: Suicide rate trends for Poland, one of the most populous countries in Europe, are not well documented. Moreover, the quality of the official Polish suicide statistics is unknown and requires in-depth investigation. METHODS: Population and mortality data disaggregated by sex, age, manner, and cause were obtained from the Polish Central Statistics Office for the period 1970-2009. Suicides and deaths categorized as ‘undetermined injury intent,’ ‘unknown causes,’ and ‘unintentional poisonings’ were analyzed to estimate the reliability and sensitivity of suicide certification in Poland over three periods covered by ICD-8, ICD-9 and ICD-10, respectively. Time trends were assessed by the Spearman test for trend. RESULTS: The official suicide rate increased by 51.3% in Poland between 1970 and 2009. There was an increasing excess suicide rate for males, culminating in a male-to-female ratio of 7:1. The dominant method, hanging, comprised 90% of all suicides by 2009. Factoring in deaths of undetermined intent only, estimated sensitivity of suicide certification was 77% overall, but lower for females than males. Not increasing linearly with age, the suicide rate peaked at ages 40-54 years. CONCLUSION: The suicide rate is increasing in Poland, which calls for a national prevention initiative. Hangings are the predominant suicide method based on official registration. However, suicide among females appears grossly underestimated given their lower estimated sensitivity of suicide certification, greater use of “soft” suicide methods, and the very high 7:1 male-to-female rate ratio. Changes in the ICD classification system resulted in a temporary suicide data blackout in 1980-1982, and significant modifications of the death categories of senility and unknown causes, after 1997, suggest the need for data quality surveillance.

Concepts: Death, Demography, Suicide, The Complete Manual of Suicide, Hanging, Suicide methods


BACKGROUND: There is a significant treatment gap for patients with depression. A third of sufferers never seek help, and the vast majority of those who do only do so after considerable delay. Little is understood regarding poor help-seeking rates amongst people with depression, with existing research mainly focussed on the impact of barriers to treatment. The current study explored psychological factors affecting help-seeking behaviour in clinically depressed individuals. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 current or previously clinically depressed participants who either had or had not sought professional help. Thematic analysis was used to analyse results. RESULTS: The onset of depressive symptoms created conflict with participants' identity and personal goals. Delays in seeking help were primarily attributed to the desire to protect identity and goals from the threat of depressive symptoms. Participants used avoidance strategies to reduce the perceived threat of depressive symptoms on identity. These strategies interfered with help-seeking. Help-seeking was only undertaken once participants reached a point of acceptance and began to make concessions in their identity and goals, at which time they reduced their use of avoidance. CONCLUSIONS: Difficulties resolving conflict between identity and depressive symptoms may account for significant delays in seeking help for depression. The results have implications for predicting health behaviour and improving treatment uptake for depression, and may inform existing help-seeking models.

Concepts: Cognitive behavioral therapy, Bipolar disorder, Major depressive disorder, Seasonal affective disorder, Dysthymia, Types of psychological depression, Suicide, Leonard Cohen


Self-harm and suicide increase in times of economic recession, but little is known about why people self-harm when in financial difficulty, and in what circumstances self-harm occurs. This study aimed to understand events and experiences leading to the episode of self-harm and to identify opportunities for prevention or mitigation of distress.

Concepts: Scientific method, Understanding, Qualitative research, Knowledge, Suicide, Unemployment, Recession, Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit