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Mental Disorders Beyond Depression Can Lead to Suicide

Suicidal behavior is something doctors and loved ones often look for in depressive individuals, although new research shows this awareness needs to extend to additional mental disorders.

With a summary posted in Science Daily, this research suggests there is a wide range of mental disorders that can increase the odds of thinking about suicide and making attempts on one’s own life.

Even though depression is still considered one of the strongest predictors of suicidal thoughts, disorders characterized by an anxiety and poor impulse-control actually best predict which people will act on such thoughts, especially in developing countries.

Matthew Nock with Harvard University, and colleagues used data from more than 100,000 individuals in 21 counties participating in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys to investigate mental health disorders to increase the odds of experiencing suicidal thoughts and actual suicide attempts.

Researchers found that mental disorders are present in roughly half of the people who seriously consider killing themselves and two thirds of those who make a suicide attempt. Mental disorders overall were equally predictive of suicidal thoughts and attempts in developed and developing countries.

A key difference among the findings was that the strongest predictors of suicide attempts in developed countries were mood disorders; while in developing countries, the most predictive attributes were impulse-control, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorders.

“These findings provide a more fine-grained understanding of the associations between mental disorders and subsequent suicidal behavior than previously available and indicate that mental disorders are predictive of suicidal behaviors in both developed and developing countries,” said the authors, but “future research is needed to further delineate the mechanisms through which people come to think about suicide and subsequently progress from suicidal thoughts to attempts.”

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