Tag Archives: suicide

Teenagers, young adults diagnosed with cancer at increased risk of suicide

A study of nearly eight million Swedes aged 15 and over found that among the 12,669 young people diagnosed with cancer between the age of 15 and 30 there was a 60% increased risk of suicide or attempted suicide. The risk was highest during the first year immediately after diagnosis when suicidal behaviour was 1.5-fold (150%) higher among the cancer patients compared with the cancer-free group. Dr Donghao Lu, a PhD student in the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm, Sweden), said: "We found that there were 22 suicides among the cancer patients versus 14 expected and 136 attempts at suicide versus 80 expected. This equates to an extra 64 instances of suicidal behaviour among the 12,669 young cancer people…

Depression treatments: Brain scans may suggest best course

For people with depression, brain activity can predict whether talk therapy or medication will better relieve their symptoms, a new study suggests. In the study, published June 12 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, people whose brain scans showed an overactive insula, a brain region involved in emotional processing, tended to improve with medication, but not talk therapy, whereas the reverse was true for those with an underactive insula. The study was small and the findings are preliminary. But if the results are confirmed in a larger trial, the technique could be used to help guide treatment decisions for people with depression, the researchers said. An evaluation of a depression patient, in a doctor's office, “doesn't really help us to know very well whether they should receive talk therapy or a medication,” said study co-author Dr. Boadie Dunlop, a psychiatrist at Emory University in Atlanta. But the new findings, “based on the activity of the brain, that could help us pick the best treatment for an individual,” he said. Poor success Depression treatments such as talk therapy or medication have a poor success rate, with only 40 percent of people typically seeing their symptoms resolve with the first treatment, Dunlop said. Spending two to three months on ineffective treatments can lead to lost productivity, higher risk of suicide, and continued suffering for patients and their families. [Where is the Suicide Belt?] To see whether there was a way to identify the best treatment for patients, Dunlop and his colleagues measured the brain activity of 82 patients with major depression using positron emission tomography (PET) scans. Afterward, they randomly assigned the participants to receive 12 weeks of a common antidepressant escitalopram (brand name Lexapro), or 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy, a talk therapy that has been shown to improve depression. Of the original cohort, 67 people completed the study. Afterward, the researchers assessed the roughly 40 percent of people who were completely free of depression, as well as the approximately 25 percent who had hardly improved at all. (About 35 percent of people improved somewhat, but not enough to be considered symptom-free.) They found that people with an overactive brain region called the insula improved dramatically on medication, but not at all with talk therapy. People with an underactive insula improved with cognitive behavioral therapy, but not with medication, according to the study. Dunlop said that the people who improved somewhat showed the same trends, but to a lesser extent. Future applications It's not clear exactly why the insula, which processes bodily experiences of emotion, predicted people's response to treatment, but past studies had shown it was tied to depression, Dunlop said. The new research is based on a small number of people and must be confirmed in a larger trial, Richard Shelton, a psychiatrist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, wrote in an email to LiveScience. In addition, Shelton noted that PET scans are expensive, costing about $1,500. They also involve low doses of radiation. “In an age of cost-containment, it seems unlikely that every person with depression entering treatment would undergo a brain scan first to guide treatment selection,” said Shelton, who was not involved in the study. But if the findings are confirmed, it would raise the possibility that PET scans could be used in some circumstances, to determine treatments for the patients with certain needs, Dunlop said. Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/13/depression-treatments-brain-scans-may-suggest-best-course/

Schoolmates of suicide victims at higher risk

Teens who have a classmate die of suicide are more likely to consider taking, or attempt to take, their own lives, according to a new study. The idea that suicide might be “contagious” has been around for centuries, senior author Dr. Ian Colman, who studies mental health at the University of Ottawa, said. Past studies supported the idea, but none had looked at such a large body of students, he said. “There were a lot of surprising things about this study, we were surprised that the effect lasted so long and just how strong it was,” Colman said. Colman and his colleagues used data from a long-running national survey of more than 8,000 Canadian kids aged 12 to 17 years old. Students were asked about suicides of schoolmates, friends and their own thoughts of suicide, and researchers checked in with the kids two years later. By the age of 17, one in four kids had a schoolmate who had committed suicide, and one in five knew the deceased personally, according to results published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. For the 12- and 13-year-old adolescents exposed to a schoolmate's suicide, 15 percent reported thinking seriously about killing themselves and seven percent actually made an attempt, compared to 3 percent and 2 percent of unexposed kids, respectively. The effect persisted even if the schoolmate had died more than a year earlier. Results were similar for 14- and 15-year-olds and 16- and 17-year-olds, but older kids who had not been exposed to suicide were more likely to have thought of or attempted it. “For 12- and 13-year olds, they were approximately five times more likely to report thinking about suicide,” Colman said. “That's a huge effect.” They found no difference between kids who personally knew the deceased and those who didn't. In the U.S., about 4,600 people aged 10 to 25 years old commit suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control. NEW POLICIES? Based on the results, school “post-vention” programs should encompass the whole school, not just those closest to the deceased, and should perhaps revisit parts of the intervention months and years down the line, Colman said. It may make sense that kids who knew the deceased and those who didn't seemed to have no difference in risk, Frank Zenere, a school psychologist at the Miami-Dade County public school system, said. “Sometimes the closest friends are not the ones that are most likely to harm themselves because they're so up close and aware of the painful fallout with the family of the deceased, which can actually be a protective factor,” Zenere said. The younger kids tend to be most vulnerable and impressionable, he said. “There's a lot more drama in middle school grade levels, they tend to have much more of an emotional outpouring, early teens versus late teens,” he said. Though the current study indicates the effect persists for at least two years, Zenere believes it may go on even longer. Some school districts may rewrite policies and procedures in light of these results, but those at most, including his own, are probably already designed to take relevant factors into account. “It's really important for parents to talk to their kids about mental health and to help them get professional help if needed,” Colman said.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/21/schoolmates-suicide-victims-at-higher-risk/