Lack of sleep can make you twice as likely to commit suicide, a new study warns. And patients with a traumatic brain injury were nine times more likely to kill themselves, it found.
Having Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) also made the risk doubled, despite advances in treatments, according to researchers in Michigan, United States (U.S.).
They identified 17 chronic illnesses that substantially raise the risk of taking your own life, which include back pain, diabetes, and heart disease.
Many people who die by suicide were not previously mentally ill, it was found. This means patients at an increased risk of self-harm are being missed and let down by the healthcare system, say the study authors.
Lead investigator Dr. Brian Ahmedani from Henry Ford Health System said: “As our nation’s healthcare systems work diligently to provide the best care for their patients, these data help support the need for suicide prevention among those with a wide variety of physical health conditions.”
This study looked at data on 2,674 people who died by suicide between 2000 and 2013. It also analysed 267,400 controls matched on year and location. Seventeen of 19 medical conditions investigated were linked to an increased suicide risk.
These include asthma, back pain, brain injury, cancer, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, diabetes, epilepsy and HIV/AIDS. A link was also found with heart disease, hypertension, migraine, Parkinson’s disease, psychogenic pain, renal disorder, sleep disorders, and stroke.
While all of these conditions were associated with greater risk, some conditions showed a stronger association than others. Having multiple physical health conditions also substantially increased risk.
Targeted interventions in primary care and speciality care may be the key to preventing suicides, the researchers urge. Around 80 per cent of people who die by suicide make a visit to a hospital or doctor in the year before their death and half go to the doctor within four weeks before.
Because most these patients do not have a diagnosed mental health problem, doctors miss their risk. The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
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