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1.  A Novel Brief Therapy for Patients Who Attempt Suicide: A 24-months Follow-Up Randomized Controlled Study of the Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program (ASSIP) 
PLoS Medicine  2016;13(3):e1001968.
Background
Attempted suicide is the main risk factor for suicide and repeated suicide attempts. However, the evidence for follow-up treatments reducing suicidal behavior in these patients is limited. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the efficacy of the Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program (ASSIP) in reducing suicidal behavior. ASSIP is a novel brief therapy based on a patient-centered model of suicidal behavior, with an emphasis on early therapeutic alliance.
Methods and Findings
Patients who had recently attempted suicide were randomly allocated to treatment as usual (n = 60) or treatment as usual plus ASSIP (n = 60). ASSIP participants received three therapy sessions followed by regular contact through personalized letters over 24 months. Participants considered to be at high risk of suicide were included, 63% were diagnosed with an affective disorder, and 50% had a history of prior suicide attempts. Clinical exclusion criteria were habitual self-harm, serious cognitive impairment, and psychotic disorder. Study participants completed a set of psychosocial and clinical questionnaires every 6 months over a 24-month follow-up period.
The study represents a real-world clinical setting at an outpatient clinic of a university hospital of psychiatry. The primary outcome measure was repeat suicide attempts during the 24-month follow-up period. Secondary outcome measures were suicidal ideation, depression, and health-care utilization. Furthermore, effects of prior suicide attempts, depression at baseline, diagnosis, and therapeutic alliance on outcome were investigated.
During the 24-month follow-up period, five repeat suicide attempts were recorded in the ASSIP group and 41 attempts in the control group. The rates of participants reattempting suicide at least once were 8.3% (n = 5) and 26.7% (n = 16). ASSIP was associated with an approximately 80% reduced risk of participants making at least one repeat suicide attempt (Wald χ21 = 13.1, 95% CI 12.4–13.7, p < 0.001). ASSIP participants spent 72% fewer days in the hospital during follow-up (ASSIP: 29 d; control group: 105 d; W = 94.5, p = 0.038). Higher scores of patient-rated therapeutic alliance in the ASSIP group were associated with a lower rate of repeat suicide attempts. Prior suicide attempts, depression, and a diagnosis of personality disorder at baseline did not significantly affect outcome. Participants with a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (n = 20) had more previous suicide attempts and a higher number of reattempts.
Key study limitations were missing data and dropout rates. Although both were generally low, they increased during follow-up. At 24 months, the group difference in dropout rate was significant: ASSIP, 7% (n = 4); control, 22% (n = 13). A further limitation is that we do not have detailed information of the co-active follow-up treatment apart from participant self-reports every 6 months on the setting and the duration of the co-active treatment.
Conclusions
ASSIP, a manual-based brief therapy for patients who have recently attempted suicide, administered in addition to the usual clinical treatment, was efficacious in reducing suicidal behavior in a real-world clinical setting. ASSIP fulfills the need for an easy-to-administer low-cost intervention. Large pragmatic trials will be needed to conclusively establish the efficacy of ASSIP and replicate our findings in other clinical settings.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02505373
In a randomized controlled trial, Konrad Michel and colleagues test the efficacy of a manual-based therapy intended to prevent repeat suicide attempts.
Editors' Summary
Background
Suicide is a serious public health problem. Over 800,000 people worldwide die by suicide every year. In the US, one suicide death occurs approximately every 12 minutes. While the causes of suicide are complex, the goals of suicide prevention are simple—reduce factors that increase risk, and increase factors that promote resilience or coping. Factors that increase suicide risk include family history of suicide, family history of child abuse, previous suicide attempts, history of mental disorders (particularly depression), history of alcohol and substance abuse, and access to lethal means. Factors that are protective against suicide include effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders; connectedness to family and community; and problem solving and conflict resolution skills. A previous suicide attempt is the main risk factor for repeat attempts and for completed suicide. Fifteen to 25 percent of people who attempt suicide make another attempt, and five to ten percent eventually die by suicide.
Why Was This Study Done?
A number of suicide prevention treatments have been developed. Most of them involve therapy sessions and personal follow-up. While some of them have been shown to work in clinical trials—often with participants who have made a previous suicide attempt—few interventions have proven to be effective consistently in different settings. For this study, the researchers developed a treatment called Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program (ASSIP) composed of three therapy sessions shortly after the suicide attempt and follow-up over two years with personalized mailed letters. They wanted the therapy part to be short, in order to provide a treatment that would allow a psychiatric service to cope with the large number of patients seen in the emergency department after a suicide attempt. The therapeutic elements of the treatment emphasized building an early therapeutic alliance, which would then serve as a basis (“anchoring”) for long-term outreach contact through regular letters. The therapy sessions and letters follow a detailed script, which the researchers developed into a manual that includes a step-by-step description of the highly structured treatment, checklists, handouts, and standardized letters for use by health professionals in various clinical settings. This study was done to test whether ASSIP can reduce suicidal behavior in addition to routine treatment.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers carried out a randomized clinical trial testing ASSIP in people who had attempted suicide (the majority by intentional overdosing) and been admitted to the emergency department of the Bern University General Hospital in Switzerland. Participants were randomly assigned to two groups. The treatment group received ASSIP in addition to treatment as usual (inpatient, day patient, and outpatient care as deemed appropriate by the hospital clinicians); the control group received a single structured assessment interview plus treatment as usual. The study objective was to evaluate—with follow-up questionnaires and health-care data—whether ASSIP can reduce the rate of repeated suicide attempt in the 24 months after a suicide attempt. The researchers also compared suicidal ideation (i.e., whether and how often participants had suicidal thoughts), levels of depression, and how often people were hospitalized between the two groups.
A total of 120 patients who had recently attempted suicide were randomly allocated to treatment as usual or treatment as usual plus ASSIP. The 60 ASSIP participants received three therapy sessions followed by regular contact over 24 months. During the first therapy session, the patient was prompted to tell the story of how he or she had reached the point of attempting suicide. Narrative interviewing is a key element of ASSIP’s patient-centered collaborative approach. The first session was videotaped, and parts were watched and discussed by patient and therapist during the second session, to recreate the experience of psychological pain and analyze how stress developed into suicidal action. During the final session, therapist and patient developed a list of long-term goals, warning signs, and safety strategies. These were printed and given to the patient in a credit-card-sized folded leaflet along with a list of telephone help numbers. Patients were told to carry both items at all times and to use them in the event of an emotional crisis. Over the subsequent two years, patients received six letters from their therapist reminding them of the risk of future suicidal crises and the importance of the collaboratively developed safety strategies.
During the 24 months of follow-up, one death by suicide occurred in each group, five repeat suicide attempts were recorded in the ASSIP group, and 41 repeat suicide attempts were recorded in the control group. ASSIP was associated with an approximately 80% reduced risk of repeat suicide attempt. In addition, ASSIP participants spent 72% fewer days in the hospital during follow-up. There was no difference in patient-reported suicidal ideation or in levels of depression.
What Do these Findings Mean?
The results show that ASSIP, administered in addition to the usual clinical treatment, was able to reduce suicidal behavior over 24 months in patients who had recently attempted suicide. The addition of ASSIP to usual treatment directly or its effect on repeat attempts might also reduce health care costs. The absence of effects on suicidal thoughts and depression is consistent with ASSIP’s objective to help people cope with crises as opposed to eliminating them. The study’s findings in a real-world clinical setting (a university hospital in the Swiss capital) are promising. They justify further testing in large clinical trials and diverse settings to answer conclusively whether and where ASSIP can reduce repeat suicide attempts, prevent deaths from suicide, and reduce health-care costs.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001968.
National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has information on research prioritization for suicide prevention
There is also a supplemental issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine focused on research about suicide prevention
More information about suicide is available from ZEROSuicide http://zerosuicide.sprc.org/ and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center http://www.sprc.org/
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on suicide
The UK Mental Health Foundation also has information on suicide
The page “About Suicide” from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has information on warning signs, risk factors, and statistics
The US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers help and information
The Bern University Hospital of Psychiatry has a page describing ASSIP for patients (in German)
The Finnish Association for Mental Health has a page describing ASSIP (in English)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001968
PMCID: PMC4773217  PMID: 26930055
2.  Cross-National Analysis of the Associations among Mental Disorders and Suicidal Behavior: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(8):e1000123.
Using data from over 100,000 individuals in 21 countries participating in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys, Matthew Nock and colleagues investigate which mental health disorders increase the odds of experiencing suicidal thoughts and actual suicide attempts, and how these relationships differ across developed and developing countries.
Background
Suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide. Mental disorders are among the strongest predictors of suicide; however, little is known about which disorders are uniquely predictive of suicidal behavior, the extent to which disorders predict suicide attempts beyond their association with suicidal thoughts, and whether these associations are similar across developed and developing countries. This study was designed to test each of these questions with a focus on nonfatal suicide attempts.
Methods and Findings
Data on the lifetime presence and age-of-onset of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) mental disorders and nonfatal suicidal behaviors were collected via structured face-to-face interviews with 108,664 respondents from 21 countries participating in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. The results show that each lifetime disorder examined significantly predicts the subsequent first onset of suicide attempt (odds ratios [ORs] = 2.9–8.9). After controlling for comorbidity, these associations decreased substantially (ORs = 1.5–5.6) but remained significant in most cases. Overall, mental disorders were equally predictive in developed and developing countries, with a key difference being that the strongest predictors of suicide attempts in developed countries were mood disorders, whereas in developing countries impulse-control, substance use, and post-traumatic stress disorders were most predictive. Disaggregation of the associations between mental disorders and nonfatal suicide attempts showed that these associations are largely due to disorders predicting the onset of suicidal thoughts rather than predicting progression from thoughts to attempts. In the few instances where mental disorders predicted the transition from suicidal thoughts to attempts, the significant disorders are characterized by anxiety and poor impulse-control. The limitations of this study include the use of retrospective self-reports of lifetime occurrence and age-of-onset of mental disorders and suicidal behaviors, as well as the narrow focus on mental disorders as predictors of nonfatal suicidal behaviors, each of which must be addressed in future studies.
Conclusions
This study found that a wide range of mental disorders increased the odds of experiencing suicide ideation. However, after controlling for psychiatric comorbidity, only disorders characterized by anxiety and poor impulse-control predict which people with suicide ideation act on such thoughts. 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 predict suicidal behaviors similarly in both developed and developing countries. Future research is needed to delineate the mechanisms through which people come to think about suicide and subsequently progress from ideation to attempts.
Please see later in the article for Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide. Every 40 seconds, someone somewhere commits suicide. Over a year, this adds up to about 1 million self-inflicted deaths. In the USA, for example, where suicide is the 11th leading cause of death, more than 30,000 people commit suicide every year. The figures for nonfatal suicidal behavior (suicidal thoughts or ideation, suicide planning, and suicide attempts) are even more shocking. Globally, suicide attempts, for example, are estimated to be 20 times as frequent as completed suicides. Risk factors for nonfatal suicidal behaviors and for suicide include depression and other mental disorders, alcohol or drug abuse, stressful life events, a family history of suicide, and having a friend or relative commit suicide. Importantly, nonfatal suicidal behaviors are powerful predictors of subsequent suicide deaths so individuals who talk about killing themselves must always be taken seriously and given as much help as possible by friends, relatives, and mental-health professionals.
Why Was This Study Done?
Experts believe that it might be possible to find ways to decrease suicide rates by answering three questions. First, which individual mental disorders are predictive of nonfatal suicidal behaviors? Although previous studies have reported that virtually all mental disorders are associated with an increased risk of suicidal behaviors, people often have two or more mental disorders (“comorbidity”), so many of these associations may reflect the effects of only a few disorders. Second, do some mental disorders predict suicidal ideation whereas others predict who will act on these thoughts? Finally, are the associations between mental disorders and suicidal behavior similar in developed countries (where most studies have been done) and in developing countries? By answering these questions, it should be possible to improve the screening, clinical risk assessment, and treatment of suicide around the world. Thus, in this study, the researchers undertake a cross-national analysis of the associations among mental disorders (as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition [DSM-IV]) and nonfatal suicidal behaviors.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected and analyzed data on the lifetime presence and age-of-onset of mental disorders and of nonfatal suicidal behaviors in structured interviews with nearly 110,000 participants from 21 countries (part of the World Health Organization's World Mental Health Survey Initiative). The lifetime presence of each of the 16 disorders considered (mood disorders such as depression; anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]; impulse-control disorders such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder; and substance misuse) predicted first suicide attempts in both developed and developing countries. However, the increased risk of a suicide attempt associated with each disorder varied. So, for example, in developed countries, after controlling for comorbid mental disorders, major depression increased the risk of a suicide attempt 3-fold but drug abuse/dependency increased the risk only 2-fold. Similarly, although the strongest predictors of suicide attempts in developed countries were mood disorders, in developing countries the strongest predictors were impulse-control disorders, substance misuse disorders, and PTSD. Other analyses indicate that mental disorders were generally more predictive of the onset of suicidal thoughts than of suicide plans and attempts, but that anxiety and poor impulse-control disorders were the strongest predictors of suicide attempts in both developed and developing countries.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although this study has several limitations—for example, it relies on retrospective self-reports by study participants—its findings nevertheless provide a more detailed understanding of the associations between mental disorders and subsequent suicidal behaviors than previously available. In particular, its findings reveal that a wide range of individual mental disorders increase the chances of an individual thinking about suicide in both developed and developing countries and provide new information about the mental disorders that predict which people with suicidal ideas will act on such thoughts. However, the findings also show that only half of people who have seriously considered killing themselves have a mental disorder. Thus although future suicide prevention efforts should include a focus on screening and treating mental disorders, ways must also be found to identify the many people without mental disorders who are at risk of suicidal behaviors.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000123.
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information about suicide in the US: statistics and prevention
The UK National Health Service provides information about suicide, including statistics about suicide in the UK and links to other resources
The World Health Organization provides global statistics about suicide and information on suicide prevention
MedlinePlus provides links to further information and advice about suicide and about mental health (in English and Spanish)
Further details about the World Mental Health Survey Initiative and about DSM-IV are available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000123
PMCID: PMC2717212  PMID: 19668361
3.  Suicide Risk Assessment Received Prior to Suicide Death by Veterans Health Administration Patients with a History of Depression 
Objective
To examine the quality of suicide risk assessment provided to veterans with a history of depression who died by suicide between 1999-2004.
Methods
Case-control study of suicide risk assessment information recorded in 488 medical charts of veterans previously diagnosed with Major Depression, Depression NOS, Dysthymia, or other, less common depression codes. Patients dying of suicide or comparison patients (n=244 pairs) were matched for age, sex, entry-year, and region.
Results
74% of patients with a history of depression received a documented assessment of suicidal ideation within the past year, and 59% received more than one assessment. However, 70% of patients of those who died of suicide did not have a documented assessment for suicidal ideation at their final VHA visit, even if that visit occurred within 0-7 days prior to suicide death. Most patients dying by suicide denied suicidal ideation when assessed (85%, 95% CI 75%-92%), even just 0-7 days prior to suicide death (73%, 95% CI 39%-94%). Suicidal ideation was assessed more frequently during outpatient final visits with mental health providers (60%) than during final visits with primary care (13%) or other non-mental health providers (10%) (p<0.0001).
Conclusions
Most VHA patients with a history of depression received some suicide risk assessment within the past year, but suicide risk assessments were infrequently administered at the final visit of patients who eventually died by suicide. Among patients who had assessments, denial of suicidal ideation appeared to be of limited value. Practice changes are needed to improve suicide risk assessment among patients with histories of depression, including the development of assessment and prevention strategies that are less dependent on the presence or disclosure of suicidal ideation at scheduled medical visits.
doi:10.4088/JCP.12m07853
PMCID: PMC4055158  PMID: 23561227
4.  Suicide-related behaviors in older patients with new anti-epileptic drug use: data from the VA hospital system 
BMC Medicine  2010;8:4.
Background
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently linked antiepileptic drug (AED) exposure to suicide-related behaviors based on meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. We examined the relationship between suicide-related behaviors and different AEDs in older veterans receiving new AED monotherapy from the Veterans Health Administration (VA), controlling for potential confounders.
Methods
VA and Medicare databases were used to identify veterans 66 years and older, who received a) care from the VA between 1999 and 2004, and b) an incident AED (monotherapy) prescription. Previously validated ICD-9-CM codes were used to identify suicidal ideation or behavior (suicide-related behaviors cases), epilepsy, and other conditions previously associated with suicide-related behaviors. Each case was matched to controls based on prior history of suicide-related behaviors, year of AED prescription, and epilepsy status.
Results
The strongest predictor of suicide-related behaviors (N = 64; Controls N = 768) based on conditional logistic regression analysis was affective disorder (depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); Odds Ratio 4.42, 95% CI 2.30 to 8.49) diagnosed before AED treatment. Increased suicide-related behaviors were not associated with individual AEDs, including the most commonly prescribed AED in the US - phenytoin.
Conclusion
Our extensive diagnostic and treatment data demonstrated that the strongest predictor of suicide-related behaviors for older patients newly treated with AED monotherapy was a previous diagnosis of affective disorder. Additional, research using a larger sample is needed to clearly determine the risk of suicide-related behaviors among less commonly used AEDs.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-8-4
PMCID: PMC2823654  PMID: 20064226
5.  Understanding and predicting suicidality using a combined genomic and clinical risk assessment approach 
Molecular Psychiatry  2015;20(11):1266-1285.
Worldwide, one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide, a potentially preventable tragedy. A limiting step in our ability to intervene is the lack of objective, reliable predictors. We have previously provided proof of principle for the use of blood gene expression biomarkers to predict future hospitalizations due to suicidality, in male bipolar disorder participants. We now generalize the discovery, prioritization, validation, and testing of such markers across major psychiatric disorders (bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and schizophrenia) in male participants, to understand commonalities and differences. We used a powerful within-participant discovery approach to identify genes that change in expression between no suicidal ideation and high suicidal ideation states (n=37 participants out of a cohort of 217 psychiatric participants followed longitudinally). We then used a convergent functional genomics (CFG) approach with existing prior evidence in the field to prioritize the candidate biomarkers identified in the discovery step. Next, we validated the top biomarkers from the prioritization step for relevance to suicidal behavior, in a demographically matched cohort of suicide completers from the coroner's office (n=26). The biomarkers for suicidal ideation only are enriched for genes involved in neuronal connectivity and schizophrenia, the biomarkers also validated for suicidal behavior are enriched for genes involved in neuronal activity and mood. The 76 biomarkers that survived Bonferroni correction after validation for suicidal behavior map to biological pathways involved in immune and inflammatory response, mTOR signaling and growth factor regulation. mTOR signaling is necessary for the effects of the rapid-acting antidepressant agent ketamine, providing a novel biological rationale for its possible use in treating acute suicidality. Similarly, MAOB, a target of antidepressant inhibitors, was one of the increased biomarkers for suicidality. We also identified other potential therapeutic targets or biomarkers for drugs known to mitigate suicidality, such as omega-3 fatty acids, lithium and clozapine. Overall, 14% of the top candidate biomarkers also had evidence for involvement in psychological stress response, and 19% for involvement in programmed cell death/cellular suicide (apoptosis). It may be that in the face of adversity (stress), death mechanisms are turned on at a cellular (apoptosis) and organismal level. Finally, we tested the top increased and decreased biomarkers from the discovery for suicidal ideation (CADM1, CLIP4, DTNA, KIF2C), prioritization with CFG for prior evidence (SAT1, SKA2, SLC4A4), and validation for behavior in suicide completers (IL6, MBP, JUN, KLHDC3) steps in a completely independent test cohort of psychiatric participants for prediction of suicidal ideation (n=108), and in a future follow-up cohort of psychiatric participants (n=157) for prediction of psychiatric hospitalizations due to suicidality. The best individual biomarker across psychiatric diagnoses for predicting suicidal ideation was SLC4A4, with a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) area under the curve (AUC) of 72%. For bipolar disorder in particular, SLC4A4 predicted suicidal ideation with an AUC of 93%, and future hospitalizations with an AUC of 70%. SLC4A4 is involved in brain extracellular space pH regulation. Brain pH has been implicated in the pathophysiology of acute panic attacks. We also describe two new clinical information apps, one for affective state (simplified affective state scale, SASS) and one for suicide risk factors (Convergent Functional Information for Suicide, CFI-S), and how well they predict suicidal ideation across psychiatric diagnoses (AUC of 85% for SASS, AUC of 89% for CFI-S). We hypothesized a priori, based on our previous work, that the integration of the top biomarkers and the clinical information into a universal predictive measure (UP-Suicide) would show broad-spectrum predictive ability across psychiatric diagnoses. Indeed, the UP-Suicide was able to predict suicidal ideation across psychiatric diagnoses with an AUC of 92%. For bipolar disorder, it predicted suicidal ideation with an AUC of 98%, and future hospitalizations with an AUC of 94%. Of note, both types of tests we developed (blood biomarkers and clinical information apps) do not require asking the individual assessed if they have thoughts of suicide, as individuals who are truly suicidal often do not share that information with clinicians. We propose that the widespread use of such risk prediction tests as part of routine or targeted healthcare assessments will lead to early disease interception followed by preventive lifestyle modifications and proactive treatment.
doi:10.1038/mp.2015.112
PMCID: PMC4759104  PMID: 26283638
6.  Suicide after Leaving the UK Armed Forces —A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(3):e1000026.
Background
Few studies have examined suicide risk in individuals once they have left the military. We aimed to investigate the rate, timing, and risk factors for suicide in all those who had left the UK Armed Forces (1996–2005).
Methods and Findings
We carried out a cohort study of ex-Armed Forces personnel by linking national databases of discharged personnel and suicide deaths (which included deaths receiving either a suicide or undetermined verdict). Comparisons were made with both general and serving populations. During the study period 233,803 individuals left the Armed Forces and 224 died by suicide. Although the overall rate of suicide was not greater than that in the general population, the risk of suicide in men aged 24 y and younger who had left the Armed Forces was approximately two to three times higher than the risk for the same age groups in the general and serving populations (age-specific rate ratios ranging from 170 to 290). The risk of suicide for men aged 30–49 y was lower than that in the general population. The risk was persistent but may have been at its highest in the first 2 y following discharge. The risk of suicide was greatest in males, those who had served in the Army, those with a short length of service, and those of lower rank. The rate of contact with specialist mental health was lowest in the age groups at greatest risk of suicide (14% for those aged under 20 y, 20% for those aged 20–24 y).
Conclusions
Young men who leave the UK Armed Forces were at increased risk of suicide. This may reflect preservice vulnerabilities rather than factors related to service experiences or discharge. Preventive strategies might include practical and psychological preparation for discharge and encouraging appropriate help-seeking behaviour once individuals have left the services.
Navneet Kapur and colleagues find that young men who leave the United Kingdom Armed Forces are at increased risk of suicide.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Leaving any job can be hard but for people leaving the armed forces the adjustment to their new circumstances can sometimes be particularly difficult. For example, ex-military personnel may face obstacles to getting a new job, particularly if they were injured in action. Some become homeless. Others turn to alcohol or drugs or suffer mental illnesses such as depression. These things probably aren't common but those who leave the armed forces might also be at higher risk of suicide than the general population.
Why Was This Study Done?
Serving members of the UK Armed Forces (the British Army, the Naval Service, and the Royal Air Force) have a lower rate of suicide than the general UK population. The lower rate is probably due to “the healthy worker effect” (i.e., workers tend to be healthier than the general population, since the latter includes people unable to work due to illness or disability). However, there are anecdotal reports that ex-military personnel are more likely to die by suicide than are members of the general population. If these reports are correct, then measures should be put into place to prepare people for leaving the Armed Forces and to provide more support for them once they have left the military. The authors of this new study say that no previous studies had systematically examined suicide risk in individuals leaving the Armed Forces. In this new study, therefore, the researchers examine the suicide rate, timing, and risk factors for suicide in a large group (cohort) of former members of the UK Armed Forces.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers linked data on everyone who left the UK Armed Forces between 1996 and 2005 with information on suicides collected by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide. Since 1996, the Inquiry has been collecting information about all suicides (defined as cases where the coroner has given a verdict of suicide or of “undetermined death”) in the UK, including information about whether the deceased used mental health services in the year before they died. The aim of the Inquiry is to reduce the risk of suicides (and homicides) in the UK by improving the country's mental health services. Between 1996 and 2005, 233,803 people left the Armed Forces and 224 (nearly all men) died by suicide. The researchers' statistical analysis of these data indicates that the overall suicide rate in the ex-military personnel was similar to that in the general population. However, the risk of suicide in men aged 24 y or younger who had left the military was 2–3 times greater than that in the same age group in both the general male population and in men serving in the Armed Forces. The risk of dying by suicide was highest in the first 2 y after leaving the military but remained raised for several years. Risk factors for suicide among ex-military personnel included being male, serving in the Army, having a short length of service, and being of lower rank. Only a fifth of the ex-military personnel who committed suicide had been in contact with mental health services in the year before they died, and the rate of contact with these services was lowest among individuals in the age groups at the highest risk of suicide.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that young men leaving the UK Armed Forces are at increased risk of suicide, particularly shortly after leaving. The study was not able to prove the reason for this increased risk, but the authors suggest three main possibilities: (1) the stress of transitioning to civilian life, (2) exposure to adverse experiences while in the military, or (3) a vulnerability to suicide before entering the military. The study provides some evidence to support the third hypothesis—untrained personnel with short lengths of service have a particularly high risk of dying by suicide after leaving the military, suggesting that the increased suicide risk may reflect a pre-military vulnerability. The researchers suggest that practical and psychological preparation might be helpful for people leaving the Armed Forces and that appropriate help-seeking behavior could be encouraged in these individuals. In the UK, the National Health Service is currently piloting a community-based mental health service for military veterans, characterized by regional clinical networks involving partnerships of relevant experts.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000026.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Jitender Sareen and Shay-Lee Belik
The Manchester University Centre for Suicide Prevention provides information about the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide and about other research into suicide, and a list of useful Web sites and help lines for people going through crises
A recent article in the Observer newspaper by Mark Townsend discusses the problems facing UK military personnel when they leave the Armed Forces
Information about suicides among serving members of the UK Armed Forces is published by the Defence Analytical Services Agency
The UK National Health Service provides information about suicide, including statistics about suicide in the UK and links to other resources
MedlinePlus also provides links to further information and advice about suicide
The World Health Organization provides information on the global burden of suicide
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000026
PMCID: PMC2650723  PMID: 19260757
7.  Relationship between Vehicle Emissions Laws and Incidence of Suicide by Motor Vehicle Exhaust Gas in Australia, 2001–06: An Ecological Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(1):e1000210.
In an ecological study, David Studdert and colleagues show that areas of Australia with fewer vehicles pre-dating stringent carbon monoxide emission laws have lower rates of suicide due to asphyxiation by motor vehicle exhaust gas.
Background
Globally, suicide accounts for 5.2% of deaths among persons aged 15 to 44 years and its incidence is rising. In Australia, suicide rates peaked in 1997 and have been declining since. A substantial part of that decline stems from a plunge in suicides by one particular method: asphyxiation by motor vehicle exhaust gas (MVEG). Although MVEG remains the second most common method of suicide in Australia, its incidence decreased by nearly 70% in the decade to 2006. The extent to which this phenomenon has been driven by national laws in 1986 and 1999 that lowered permissible levels of carbon monoxide (CO) emissions is unknown. The objective of this ecological study was to test the relationship by investigating whether areas of Australia with fewer noxious vehicles per capita experienced lower rates of MVEG suicide.
Methods and Findings
We merged data on MVEG suicides in Australia (2001–06) with data on the number and age of vehicles in the national fleet, as well as socio-demographic data from the national census. Poisson regression was used to analyse the relationship between the incidence of suicide within two levels of geographical area—postcodes and statistical subdivisions (SSDs)—and the population density of pre-1986 and pre-1999 passenger vehicles in those areas. (There was a mean population of 8,302 persons per postcode in the study dataset and 87,413 persons per SSD.) The annual incidence of MVEG suicides nationwide decreased by 57% (from 2.6 per 100,000 in 2001 to 1.1 in 2006) during the study period; the population density of pre-1986 and pre-1999 vehicles decreased by 55% (from 14.2 per 100 persons in 2001 to 6.4 in 2006) and 26% (from 44.5 per 100 persons in 2001 to 32.9 in 2006), respectively. Area-level regression analysis showed that the suicide rates were significantly and positively correlated with the presence of older vehicles. A percentage point decrease in the population density of pre-1986 vehicles was associated with a 6% decrease (rate ratio [RR] = 1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05–1.08) in the incidence of MVEG suicide within postcode areas; a percentage point decrease in the population density of pre-1999 vehicles was associated with a 3% decrease (RR = 1.03; 95% CI 1.02–1.04) in the incidence of MVEG suicide.
Conclusions
Areas of Australia with fewer vehicles predating stringent CO emission laws experience lower rates of MVEG suicide. Although those emission laws were introduced primarily for environmental reasons, countries that lack them may miss the benefits of a serendipitous suicide prevention strategy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Suicide (self-inflicted death) is a major, preventable public-health problem. About 1 million people die each year from suicide and about 20 times as many people attempt suicide. Globally, suicide rates have increased by nearly a half over the past 45 years and suicide is now among the three leading causes of death in people aged 15–44 years. Within this age group, 1 in 20 deaths is a suicide. Most people who commit suicide have a mental illness, usually depression or substance abuse, but suicide can also be triggered by a stressful event such as losing a partner. Often warning signs are present—a person who talks about killing themselves must always be taken seriously. Adequate prevention and treatment of mental illness and interventions that teach young people coping skills and improve their self-esteem have shown promise in reducing suicide rates, as have strategies (for example, restrictions on the sale of pain killers) that reduce access to common methods of suicide.
Why Was This Study Done?
In Australia, the suicide rate has been declining since 1997 when a record 2,722 suicides occurred. Fewer suicides by asphyxiation (oxygen deprivation) by motor vehicle gas exhaust (MVEG) account for much of this decline. MVEG contains carbon monoxide, a toxic gas that blocks oxygen transport around the body. Although MVEG suicide is still the second most common means of suicide in Australia, its incidence has dropped by two-thirds since 1997 but why? One possibility is that national laws passed in 1986 and 1999 that lowered the permissible level of carbon monoxide in vehicle exhaust for environmental reasons have driven the decline in MVEG suicides. Evidence from other countries suggests that this might be the case but no-one has directly investigated the relationship between MVEG suicide and the use of vehicles with reduced carbon monoxide emissions. In this ecological study (a study in which the effect of an intervention is studied on groups of people rather than on individuals), the researchers ask whether the number of pre-1986 and pre-1999 vehicles within particular geographic areas in Australia is correlated with the rates of MVEG suicide in those areas between 2001 and 2006.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained data on MVEG suicides from the Australian National Coroners Information System and data on the number and age of vehicles on the road from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. MVEG suicides dropped from 498 in 2001 to 231 in 2006, they report, and 28% of passenger vehicles registered in Australia were made before 1986 in 2001 but only 12% in 2006; the percentage of registered vehicles made before 1999 fell from 89% to 60% over the same period. The researchers then used a statistical technique called Poisson regression to analyze the relationship within postcode areas between the incidence of MVEG suicide and the presence of pre-1986 and pre-1999 vehicles. This analysis showed that in areas where older vehicles were more numerous there were more MVEG suicides (a positive correlation). Specifically, the researchers calculate that if the proportion of pre-1986 vehicles on the road in Australia had stayed at 2001 levels throughout their study period, 621 extra MVEG suicides would have occurred in the country over that time.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that in areas of Australia that had fewer vehicles on the road predating stringent vehicle emission laws, there were lower rates of MVEG suicide between 2001 and 2006. Unfortunately, this study cannot provide any information on the actual age of vehicles used in MVEG suicides or on the relationship between vehicle age and attempted MVEG suicides. It also cannot reveal whether those areas that had the sharpest decreases in the density of older vehicles had the sharpest decreases in suicide rates because very few suicides occurred in most postcodes during the study. Most importantly, the design of this study means that the researchers cannot discount the possibility that the changes in Australia's emission laws have steered people towards other methods of taking their own lives. Nevertheless, the findings of this study suggest that the introduction of stringent vehicle emission laws for environmental reasons might, serendipitously, be a worthwhile long-term suicide prevention strategy in countries where MVEG suicide is common.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000210.
Another PLoS Medicine research article, by Shu-Sen Chang and colleagues, investigates the evolution of the epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide in Taiwan
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on suicide and suicide prevention
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site has detailed information about suicide and its prevention
The World Health Organization provides information on the global burden of suicide and on suicide prevention (in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about suicide (in English and Spanish)
Suicide Prevention Australia is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization working as a public-health advocate in suicide prevention
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has recently published a review of suicide statistics in Australia
The National Coroners Information System is a database contains information on every death reported to an Australian coroner since July 2000 (January 2001 for Queensland)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000210
PMCID: PMC2796388  PMID: 20052278
8.  The Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS) 
Psychiatry  2014;77(2):107-119.
Importance/Objective
Although the suicide rate in the U.S. Army has traditionally been below age-gender matched civilian rates, it has climbed steadily since the beginning of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and since 2008 has exceeded the demographically matched civilian rate. The Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS) is a multicomponent epidemiological and neurobiological study designed to generate actionable evidence-based recommendations to reduce Army suicides and increase knowledge about risk and resilience factors for suicidality and its psychopathological correlates. This paper presents an overview of the Army STARRS component study designs and of recent findings.
Design/Setting/Participants/Intervention
Army STARRS includes six main component studies: (1) the Historical Administrative Data Study (HADS) of Army and Department of Defense (DoD) administrative data systems (including records of suicidal behaviors) for all soldiers on active duty 2004–2009 aimed at finding administrative record predictors of suicides; (2) retrospective case-control studies of fatal and nonfatal suicidal behaviors (each planned to have n = 150 cases and n = 300 controls); (3) a study of new soldiers (n = 50,765 completed surveys) assessed just before beginning basic combat training (BCT) with self-administered questionnaires (SAQ), neurocognitive tests, and blood samples; (4) a cross-sectional study of approximately 35,000 (completed SAQs) soldiers representative of all other (i.e., exclusive of BCT) active duty soldiers; (5) a pre-post deployment study (with blood samples) of soldiers in brigade combat teams about to deploy to Afghanistan (n = 9,421 completed baseline surveys), with sub-samples assessed again one, three, and nine months after returning from deployment; and (6) a pilot study to follow-up SAQ respondents transitioning to civilian life. Army/DoD administrative data are being linked prospectively to the large-scale survey samples to examine predictors of subsequent suicidality and related mental health outcomes.
Main outcome measures
Measures (self-report and administratively recorded) of suicidal behaviors and their psychopathological correlates.
Results
Component study cooperation rates are comparatively high. Sample biases are relatively small. Inefficiencies introduced into parameter estimates by using nonresponse adjustment weights and time-space clustering are small. Initial findings show that the suicide death rate, which rose over 2004–2009, increased for those deployed, those never deployed, and those previously deployed. Analyses of administrative records show that those deployed or previously deployed were at greater suicide risk. Receiving a waiver to enter the Army was not associated with increased risk. However, being demoted in the past two years was associated with increased risk. Time in current deployment, length of time since return from most recent deployment, total number of deployments, and time interval between most recent deployments (known as dwell time) were not associated with suicide risk. Initial analyses of survey data show that 13.9% of currently active non-deployed regular Army soldiers considered suicide at some point in their lifetime, while 5.3% had made a suicide plan, and 2.4% had attempted suicide. Importantly, 47–60% of these outcomes first occurred prior to enlistment. Prior mental disorders, in particular major depression and intermittent explosive disorder, were the strongest predictors of these self-reported suicidal behaviors. Most onsets of plans-attempts among ideators (58.3–63.3%) occurred within the year of onset of ideation. About 25.1% of non-deployed U.S. Army personnel met 30-day criteria for a DSM-IV anxiety, mood, disruptive behavior, or substance disorder (15.0% an internalizing disorder; 18.4% an externalizing disorder) and 11.1% for multiple disorders. Importantly, three-fourths of these disorders had pre-enlistment onsets.
Conclusions
Integration across component studies creates strengths going well beyond those in conventional applications of the same individual study designs. These design features create a strong methodological foundation from which Army STARRS can pursue its substantive research goals. The early findings reported here illustrate the importance of the study and its approach as a model of studying rare events particularly of national security concern. Continuing analyses of the data will inform suicide prevention for the U.S. Army.
doi:10.1521/psyc.2014.77.2.107
PMCID: PMC4075436  PMID: 24865195
9.  Characteristics of Veterans Accessing the Veterans Affairs Telephone Triage Who Have Depression or Suicidal Ideation: Opportunities for Intervention 
Objective
To characterize Veterans who call telephone triage because of suicidal ideation (SI) or depression and to identify opportunities for suicide prevention efforts among these telephone triage users using a biosurveillance application.
Introduction
Veterans accessing Veterans Affairs (VA) health care have higher suicide rates and more characteristics associated with suicide risk, including being male, having multiple medical and psychiatric comorbidities, and being an older age, compared with the general U.S. population. The Veterans Crisis Line is a telephone hotline available to Veterans with urgent mental health concerns; however, not all Veterans are aware of this resource. By contrast, telephone triage is a national telephone-based triage system used by the VA to assess and triage all Veterans with acute medical or mental health complaints.
Methods
The VA Electronic Surveillance System for Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE) was queried for telephone triage calls during January 1–June 30, 2012. Calls were classified as SI or depression when the triage nurse selected SI or depression as the Veteran’s chief complaint from a set of fixed options. Demographic and recommended follow-up time and location information was reviewed. A random sample of 20 SI calls and 50 depression calls were selected for chart review to determine whether Veterans were examined in a clinic or followed up by a clinician by telephone within 2 weeks of the veteran’s call.
Results
During January 1–June 30, 2012, 253,573 total calls were placed to telephone triage. Among these calls, 2,460 unique Veterans placed 417 calls for SI and 2,290 calls for depression. This represents 1% (2,707/253,573) of all calls placed during the period. All encounter information is available in the surveillance application within 24 hours of the call being placed. Median age of callers was 55 years (range: 19–94); 86% were male; and 6% placed repeat calls. The median number of repeat calls was 2 (range: 2–10). Among the 2,707 calls for SI or depression, 1,286 (48%) were made after routine business hours (5:00 p.m.–8:00 a.m.), and 646 (24%) were made on weekends. The greatest proportion of calls were from Wisconsin and Northern Illinois (17%) and the Southeastern United States (14%). Among the 2,290 calls for depression, 1,401 callers (61%) were recommended for urgent follow up or within 24 hours. 771 (34%) were assigned a follow up location of an emergency department; 117 (5%) an urgent care; 1,332 (58%) a physician’s office or clinic; 52 (2%) self-care at home; and 18 (1%) were unspecified. Among the 417 calls for SI, callers 410 (98%) were recommended for urgent follow-up or within 24 hours. 330 (79%) were assigned a follow-up location of an emergency department; 38 (9%) an urgent care; 43 (10%) a physician’s office or clinic; 3 (1%) self-care at home; and 3 (1%) unspecified. Among the 20 SI and 50 depression calls for which the charts were reviewed, 1 (5%) SI call and 6 (12%) depression calls had no documented follow-up by telephone or in person with a clinician within 2 weeks of initial call.
Conclusions
Telephone triage represents an additional data source available to surveillance applications. Although telephone triage is not the traditional method provided by the VA for triage of urgent mental health concerns, >2,000 Veterans called it with acute symptoms of SI or depression during January–June 2012. Training for suicide prevention should be prioritized for operators working during the high-volume periods of off-hours and weekends when approximately half and one-quarter of calls were received, respectively. We recommend standard notification of suicide prevention coordinators regarding calls to telephone triage for SI or depression to prevent loss to follow-up among Veterans at risk for suicide. Further investigation into reasons for increased call burden in identified geographic areas also is recommended.
PMCID: PMC3692783
Surveillance; Veterans; Suicide Risk
10.  Suicidality and Its Risk Factors in Korean People with Epilepsy: A MEPSY Study 
Background and Purpose
People with epilepsy (PWE) are more likely to experience suicidality, with suicidal ideation and attempts, than people without epilepsy (PWoE). The aims of the present study were to determine 1) the characteristics of suicidality in Korean PWE, 2) whether PWE with suicidality receive psychiatric intervention, and 3) the risk factors for suicidality.
Methods
Patients who consecutively visited epilepsy clinics at secondary- and tertiary-care hospitals were recruited (n=684), along with age- and sex-matched PWoE (n=229). The presence of current major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and/or suicidality was established using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview-Plus Version 5.0.0. The Korean version of the Liverpool Adverse Events Profile (K-LAEP) was applied to detect adverse effects of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).
Results
Suicidality was present in 208 (30.4%) of the 684 PWE. The rate of suicidality was 4.6 times higher among PWE than PWoE, and 108 (15.7%) PWE had suicidal ideation and had attempted suicide. Among those who had attempted suicide, 40.7% had made at least two attempts. The most common method of suicide attempt was drug overdose (34.9%). Unfortunately, of the 208 PWE with suicidality, 136 (65.4%) did not receive psychiatric intervention. The risk factors for suicidality were MDD [odds ratio (OR)=6.448, 95% confidence interval (CI)=3.739-11.120, p<0.001], GAD (OR=3.561, 95% CI=1.966-6.452, p<0.001), item scores of 3 or 4 on the K-LAEP (OR=2.688, 95% CI=1.647-4.387, p<0.001), and a history of febrile convulsion (OR= 2.188, 95% CI=1.318-3.632, p=0.002).
Conclusions
Suicidality is more prevalent in PWE than in PWoE. Clinicians should monitor psychiatric disorders and the adverse effects of AEDs in PWE in an attempt to reduce the incidence of suicidal ideation or suicide attempts in this patient population.
doi:10.3988/jcn.2015.11.1.32
PMCID: PMC4302177  PMID: 25628735
suicide; epilepsy; depression; anxiety; adverse effect; risk factor
11.  The effect of a web-based depression intervention on suicide ideation: secondary outcome from a randomised controlled trial in a helpline 
BMJ Open  2013;3(6):e002886.
Objectives
The effect of web-based interventions for depression on suicide ideation in callers to helplines is not known. The aim of this study was to determine if web-based Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) with and without telephone support is effective in reducing suicide ideation in callers to a helpline compared with treatment as usual (TAU). A secondary aim was to examine the factors that predict change in suicide ideation. Putative predictors included level of baseline depression, suicide behaviour, baseline anxiety and type of intervention.
Design
Randomised controlled trial.
Setting
Lifeline, Australia's 24 h telephone counselling service participants: 155 callers to a national helpline service with moderate-to-high psychological distress.
Interventions
Participants were recruited and randomised to receive either 6 weeks of internet CBT plus weekly telephone follow-up; internet CBT only; weekly telephone follow-up only or a wait-list TAU control group.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Suicidal ideation was measured using four items from the 28-item General Health Questionnaire. Predictors of change in ideation were tested using logistic regression analysis.
Results
Regardless of the intervention condition, participants showed significant reductions in suicidal ideation over 12 months (p<0.001). Higher baseline suicidal behaviour decreased the odds of remission of suicidal ideation at postintervention (OR 0.409, p<0.001). However, change in depression over the course of the interventions was associated with improvement in suicide ideation (OR 1.165, p<0.001).
Conclusions
Suicide ideation declines with and without proactive intervention. Improvements in depression are associated with the resolution of suicide ideation. Specific interventions focusing on suicide ideation should be further investigated.
Trial registration
Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN93903959.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002886
PMCID: PMC3696875  PMID: 23811172
Internet; Telephone
12.  A Study on Correlation between Anxiety Symptoms and Suicidal Ideation 
Psychiatry Investigation  2011;8(4):320-326.
Objective
In South Korea, the number of deaths from suicide has increased in the last two decades, and suicide has become both a social and political problem. In this study, after controlling the variables influencing suicidal ideation, it was expected that it would be determined if anxiety symptoms are independently related to suicidal ideation.
Methods
Data were obtained from 327 psychiatric outpatients accomplished a self-reported questionnaire that included sociodemographic characteristics and clinical variables as well as self-rating scales for measuring the severity of one's anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. Logistic-regression analyses were used to determine the correlation between anxiety symptoms and significant suicidal ideation, adjusting for covariates.
Results
The patients with significant suicidal ideation were shown to be less educated, unemployed, never married, divorced, or separated by death, or living alone, and were shown to have a lower income, a drinking habit, a higher number of past suicide attempts, and more family members who committed suicide, than the patients without significant suicidal ideation. After adjusting the covariates influencing significant suicidal ideation, anxiety symptoms were associated with significant suicidal ideation. However, after adjusting for depressive symptoms, only the trait anxiety was associated with significant suicidal ideation.
Conclusion
These findings suggest that anxiety symptoms are an independent risk factor for suicidal ideation. Clinicians may thus use anxiety symptoms for the screening examination when evaluating suicidal ideation and risk, and will have to actively evaluate and treat the anxiety symptoms of patients with suicidal tendencies.
doi:10.4306/pi.2011.8.4.320
PMCID: PMC3246139  PMID: 22216041
Suicidal ideation; Anxiety; Correlates
13.  Suicide and Death Ideation in Older Adults Obtaining Aging Services 
Objectives
To assess the frequency and correlates of death and suicide ideation in older adults accessing aging services
Design
Cross-sectional
Setting
Data for this study were collected via in-home interviews.
Participants
ASN care management clients aged 60 years and older (N = 377) were recruited for this study.
Measurement
The PHQ-9 and the Paykel Suicide Scale were used to assess death and suicide ideation. Correlates of death and suicide ideation were also examined.
Results
Fourteen percent of subjects endorsed current death or suicide ideation, 27.9% of subjects endorsed death ideation in the past year, and 9.3% of subjects endorsed suicide ideation in the last year. Current death and suicide ideation were associated with greater depressive symptoms. As compared with individuals without ideation, individuals with death ideation demonstrated higher levels of depressive symptoms, more medical conditions, and lower social support. Individuals with suicide ideation demonstrated higher depressive and anxiety symptoms and less perceived social support. Finally, as compared with individuals with death ideation, individuals with suicide ideation demonstrated higher depressive and anxiety symptoms and more alcohol misuse.
Conclusions
Death and suicide ideation are common among ASN clients. There were both differences and similarities between correlates of death and suicide ideation. ASN providers are uniquely situated to address many of the correlates of suicide ideation identified in this study; however, in order to effectively manage suicide ideation in an ASN setting, links to primary and mental health care providers are necessary.
doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2012.12.004
PMCID: PMC3880390  PMID: 23602307
suicide ideation; death ideation; aging services
14.  The characteristics of the suicide attempter according to the onset time of the suicidal ideation 
Objective
To determine the timing of development of suicidal ideation and factors associated therewith in suicide attempters who required psychiatric emergency treatment.
Methods
Of a total of 2818 suicide attempters in Japan who presented to the primary or secondary emergency department of Iwate Medical University Hospital (hereinafter, referred to as our hospital) or Iwate Prefecture Advanced Emergency and Critical Care Center (hereinafter, referred to as the emergency center), an affiliated institution to our hospital, during the 12-year period from April 1, 2002–March 31, 2014, 2274 patients for whom the timing of development of suicidal ideation was identified were included in the study. The study subjects were classified into three groups according to the timing of development of suicide ideation: the “same-day” group, those who developed suicidal ideation and attempted suicide on the same day; the “short-term” group, those who developed suicidal ideation 2–7 days before attempting suicide; and the “long-term” group, those who developed suicidal ideation more than 7 days before attempting suicide. Factors associated with the development of suicidal ideation in each group were analyzed by a multiple logistic regression analysis with background factors, the diagnosis according to the ICD and the situations before and after the suicide attempt as explanatory variables.
Results
The same-day group was characterized by a high female ratio, high global functioning, low stress level, non-depressed status and a lack of seeking consultation. In contrast, the long-term group was characterized by low global functioning and a high stress level, suggesting that these patients exhibit consultation behavior, but have not received psychiatric services. In the short-term group, only male gender was identified as a significant factor.
Discussion
For those patients who developed suicidal ideation and attempted suicide on the same day, treatment strategies focusing on the acquisition of coping skills and stress management are recommended. For those with suicidal ideation lasting for more than a week or recurrent ideation, early detection and subsequent early treatment of such ideation are essential. In intermediate cases, treatment strategies that make the full use of mental health management in the workplace and gate-keeping are likely to be effective.
doi:10.1186/s12991-015-0087-6
PMCID: PMC4696195  PMID: 26719756
Suicidal attempt; Suicide ideation; Brief psychiatric rating scale (BPRS); Global assessment scale (GAS); Life change units of Holmes social readjustment rating scale (LCU)
15.  Routine Self-administered, Touch-Screen Computer Based Suicidal Ideation Assessment Linked to Automated Response Team Notification in an HIV Primary Care Setting 
Summary
The implementation of routine computer-based screening for suicidal ideation and other psychosocial domains through standardized patient reported outcome instruments in two high volume urban HIV clinics is described. Factors associated with an increased risk of self-reported suicidal ideation were determined.
Background
HIV/AIDS continues to be associated with an under-recognized risk for suicidal ideation, attempted as well as completed suicide. Suicidal ideation represents an important predictor for subsequent attempted and completed suicide. We sought to implement routine screening of suicidal ideation and associated conditions using computerized patient reported outcome (PRO) assessments.
Methods
Two geographically distinct academic HIV primary care clinics enrolled patients attending scheduled visits from 12/2005 to 2/2009. Touch-screen-based, computerized PRO assessments were implemented into routine clinical care. Substance abuse (ASSIST), alcohol consumption (AUDIT-C), depression (PHQ-9) and anxiety (PHQ-A) were assessed. The PHQ-9 assesses the frequency of suicidal ideation in the preceding two weeks. A response of “nearly every day” triggered an automated page to pre-determined clinic personnel who completed more detailed self-harm assessments.
Results
Overall 1,216 (UAB= 740; UW= 476) patients completed initial PRO assessment during the study period. Patients were white (53%; n=646), predominantly males (79%; n=959) with a mean age of 44 (± 10). Among surveyed patients, 170 (14%) endorsed some level of suicidal ideation, while 33 (3%) admitted suicidal ideation nearly every day. In multivariable analysis, suicidal ideation risk was lower with advancing age (OR=0.74 per 10 years;95%CI=0.58-0.96) and was increased with current substance abuse (OR=1.88;95%CI=1.03-3.44) and more severe depression (OR=3.91 moderate;95%CI=2.12-7.22; OR=25.55 severe;95%CI=12.73-51.30).
Discussion
Suicidal ideation was associated with current substance abuse and depression. The use of novel technologies to incorporate routine self-reported screening for suicidal ideation and other health domains allow for timely detection and intervention for this life threatening condition.
doi:10.1086/651420
PMCID: PMC2841210  PMID: 20210646
16.  Suicide risk in Veterans Health Administration patients with mental health diagnoses initiating lithium or valproate: a historical prospective cohort study 
BMC Psychiatry  2014;14:357.
Background
Lithium has been reported in some, but not all, studies to be associated with reduced risks of suicide death or suicidal behavior. The objective of this nonrandomized cohort study was to examine whether lithium was associated with reduced risk of suicide death in comparison to the commonly-used alternative treatment, valproate.
Methods
A propensity score-matched cohort study was conducted of Veterans Health Administration patients (n=21,194/treatment) initiating lithium or valproate from 1999-2008.
Results
Matching produced lithium and valproate treatment groups that were highly similar in all 934 propensity score covariates, including indicators of recent suicidal behavior, but recent suicidal ideation was not able to be included. In the few individuals with recently diagnosed suicidal ideation, a significant imbalance existed with suicidal ideation more prevalent at baseline among individuals initiating lithium than valproate (odds ratio (OR) 1.30, 95% CI 1.09, 1.54; p=0.003). No significant differences in suicide death were observed over 0-365 days in A) the primary intent-to-treat analysis (lithium/valproate conditional odds ratio (cOR) 1.22, 95% CI 0.82, 1.81; p=0.32); B) during receipt of initial lithium or valproate treatment (cOR 0.86, 95% CI 0.46, 1.61; p=0.63); or C) after such treatment had been discontinued/modified (OR 1.51, 95% CI 0.91, 2.50; p=0.11). Significantly increased risks of suicide death were observed after the discontinuation/modification of lithium, compared to valproate, treatment over the first 180 days (OR 2.72, 95% CI 1.21, 6.11; p=0.015).
Conclusions
In this somewhat distinct sample (a predominantly male Veteran sample with a broad range of psychiatric diagnoses), no significant differences in associations with suicide death were observed between lithium and valproate treatment over 365 days. The only significant difference was observed over 0-180 days: an increased risk of suicide death, among individuals discontinuing or modifying lithium, compared to valproate, treatment. This difference could reflect risks either related to lithium discontinuation or higher baseline risks among lithium recipients (i.e., confounding) that became more evident when treatment stopped. Our findings therefore support educating patients and providers about possible suicide-related risks of discontinuing lithium even shortly after treatment initiation, and the close monitoring of patients after lithium discontinuation, if feasible. If our findings include residual confounding biasing against lithium, however, as suggested by the differences observed in diagnosed suicidal ideation, then the degree of beneficial reduction in suicide death risk associated with active lithium treatment would be underestimated. Further research is urgently needed, given the lack of interventions against suicide and the uncertainties concerning the degree to which lithium may reduce suicide risk during active treatment, increase risk upon discontinuation, or both.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12888-014-0357-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12888-014-0357-x
PMCID: PMC4343189  PMID: 25515091
Suicide; Lithium; Valproate; Veterans; Veterans Health Administration; Propensity score; Matching; Discontinuation; Intent-to-treat; Suicidal behavior
17.  Contributors to suicidality in rural communities: beyond the effects of depression 
BMC Psychiatry  2012;12:105.
Background
Rural populations experience a higher suicide rate than urban areas despite their comparable prevalence of depression. This suggests the identification of additional contributors is necessary to improve our understanding of suicide risk in rural regions. Investigating the independent contribution of depression, and the impact of co-existing psychiatric disorders, to suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in a rural community sample may provide clarification of the role of depression in rural suicidality.
Methods
618 participants in the Australian Rural Mental Health Study completed the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, providing assessment of lifetime suicidal ideation and attempts, affective disorders, anxiety disorders and substance-use disorders. Logistic regression analyses explored the independent contribution of depression and additional diagnoses to suicidality. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was performed to illustrate the benefit of assessing secondary psychiatric diagnoses when determining suicide risk.
Results
Diagnostic criteria for lifetime depressive disorder were met by 28% (174) of the sample; 25% (154) had a history of suicidal ideation. Overall, 41% (63) of participants with lifetime suicidal ideation and 34% (16) of participants with a lifetime suicide attempt had no history of depression. When lifetime depression was controlled for, suicidal ideation was predicted by younger age, being currently unmarried, and lifetime anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to depression, suicide attempts were predicted by lifetime anxiety and drug use disorders, as well as younger age; being currently married and employed were significant protective factors. The presence of comorbid depression and PTSD significantly increased the odds of reporting a suicide attempt above either of these conditions independently.
Conclusions
While depression contributes significantly to suicidal ideation, and is a key risk factor for suicide attempts, other clinical and demographic factors played an important role in this rural sample. Consideration of the contribution of factors such as substance use and anxiety disorders to suicidal ideation and behaviours may improve our ability to identify individuals at risk of suicide. Acknowledging the contribution of these factors to rural suicide may also result in more effective approaches for the identification and treatment of at-risk individuals.
doi:10.1186/1471-244X-12-105
PMCID: PMC3477044  PMID: 22873772
18.  KILLING IN COMBAT MAY BE INDEPENDENTLY ASSOCIATED WITH SUICIDAL IDEATION 
Depression and anxiety  2012;29(11):918-923.
Background
The United States military has lost more troops to suicide than to combat for the second year in a row and better understanding combat-related risk factors for suicide is critical. We examined the association of killing and suicide among war veterans after accounting for PTSD, depression, and substance use disorders.
Methods
We utilized a cross-sectional, retrospective, nationally representative sample of Vietnam veterans from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS). In order to perform a more in depth analysis, we utilized a subsample of these data, the NVVRS Clinical Interview Sample (CIS), which is representative of 1.3 million veterans who were eligible for the clinical interview by virtue of living in proximity to an interview site, located within 28 standard metropolitan regions throughout the United States.
Results
Veterans who had higher killing experiences had twice the odds of suicidal ideation, compared to those with lower or no killing experiences (OR = 1.99, 95% CI = 1.07–3.67), even after adjusting for demographic variables, PTSD, depression, substance use disorders, and adjusted combat exposure. PTSD (OR = 3.42, 95% CI = 1.09–10.73), depression (OR = 11.49, 95% CI = 2.12–62.38), and substance use disorders (OR = 3.98, 95% CI = 1.01–15.60) were each associated with higher odds of suicidal ideation. Endorsement of suicide attempts was most strongly associated with PTSD (OR = 5.52, 95% CI = 1.21–25.29).
Conclusions
Killing experiences are not routinely examined when assessing suicide risk. Our findings have important implications for conducting suicide risk assessments in veterans of war. Depression and Anxiety 29:918–923, 2012.
doi:10.1002/da.21954
PMCID: PMC3974930  PMID: 22505038
suicide; killing; depression; stress disorders; posttraumatic; war; veterans
19.  The Evolution of the Epidemic of Charcoal-Burning Suicide in Taiwan: A Spatial and Temporal Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(1):e1000212.
Shu-Sen Chang and colleagues describe the epidemiology of an epidemic of suicide by charcoal burning in Taiwan and discuss possible reasons for its spread.
Background
An epidemic of carbon monoxide poisoning suicide by burning barbecue charcoal has occurred in East Asia in the last decade. We investigated the spatial and temporal evolution of the epidemic to assess its impact on the epidemiology of suicide in Taiwan.
Methods and Findings
Age-standardised rates of suicide and undetermined death by charcoal burning were mapped across townships (median population aged 15 y or over = 27,000) in Taiwan for the periods 1999–2001, 2002–2004, and 2005–2007. Smoothed standardised mortality ratios of charcoal-burning and non-charcoal-burning suicide and undetermined death across townships were estimated using Bayesian hierarchical models. Trends in overall and method-specific rates were compared between urban and rural areas for the period 1991–2007. The epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide in Taiwan emerged more prominently in urban than rural areas, without a single point of origin, and rates of charcoal-burning suicide remained highest in the metropolitan regions throughout the epidemic. The rural excess in overall suicide rates prior to 1998 diminished as rates of charcoal-burning suicide increased to a greater extent in urban than rural areas.
Conclusions
The charcoal-burning epidemic has altered the geography of suicide in Taiwan. The observed pattern and its changes in the past decade suggest that widespread media coverage of this suicide method and easy access to barbecue charcoal may have contributed to the epidemic. Prevention strategies targeted at these factors, such as introducing and enforcing guidelines on media reporting and restricting access to charcoal, may help tackle the increase of charcoal-burning suicides.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, about a million people take their own lives. Most people who die by suicide are mentally ill but some people take their lives because stressful events (the loss of a partner, for example) have made life seem worthless or too painful to bear. Strategies to reduce suicide rates include better treatment of mental illness and programs that help people at high risk of suicide deal with stress. Suicide rates can also be reduced by limiting access to common suicide methods. These methods differ from place to place. Hanging is the predominant suicide method in many countries but, in Hong Kong, for example, jumping from a high building is the commonest method. Suicide methods also vary over time. In 1998, a woman in Hong Kong took her life by burning barbecue charcoal in a sealed room (a process that produces high levels of the toxic gas carbon monoxide). This method was unheard of before and was extensively reported by the mass media; by the end of 2004, charcoal-burning suicide became the second most common form of suicide in Hong Kong.
Why Was This Study Done?
The epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide that started in Hong Kong has rapidly spread to other countries in East Asia, including Taiwan, where it is also now the second most common method of suicide. It would be useful to identify the factors that have contributed to the spread of this particular form of suicide because such knowledge might help to improve strategies for preventing charcoal-burning suicide. One way to identify these factors is to examine the space–time clustering of charcoal-burning suicides. Clustering of specific types of suicides in both time and space usually occurs in settings such as institutions where the individuals who die by suicide have been in social contact. By contrast, clustering of specific types of suicide in time more than place is often associated with media coverage of events such as celebrity suicides, which can lead to imitative suicides. In this study, therefore, the researchers investigate the evolution of the epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide over time and across areas in Taiwan.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained data on suicides and undetermined deaths (most “missed” suicides are recorded as undetermined deaths) from 1999 to 2007 from the Taiwan Department of Health. They then used statistical methods to estimate the standardized mortality rates (the ratio of the observed to the expected numbers of deaths) of charcoal-burning and non-charcoal-burning suicides and undetermined deaths in different areas of Taiwan. The proportion of suicides that were charcoal-burning suicides rose from 0.1% in 1991 to 26.6% in 2007, they report, and the epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide was more marked in urban than in rural areas. However, there was no single point of origin of the epidemic. Finally, they report, rates of charcoal-burning suicide were consistently higher in urban than in rural areas throughout the study period, a result that means that, although overall suicide rates were higher in rural than in urban regions of Taiwan prior to the epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide, the difference has now almost disappeared.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide may underlie recent changes in the geography of suicide in Taiwan. However, the study's findings may not be numerically accurate because of some of the assumptions made by the researchers. For example, there is no specific code for charcoal-burning suicides in official records so the researchers assumed that suicides classified as “poisoning using nondomestic gas” were all charcoal-burning suicides, although other studies have shown that nearly 90% of deaths in the category were indeed charcoal-burning suicides. Nevertheless, the observed geographical pattern of charcoal-burning suicides and the changes in this pattern over time suggest that widespread media coverage and easy access to barbecue coal in supermarkets and convenience stores may have contributed to the epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide and to the increase in overall suicide rate in Taiwan and elsewhere in East Asia. Thus, guidelines that encourage responsible media reporting of charcoal-burning suicide (that is, reporting that does not contain detailed descriptions of the method or suggest that this type of suicide is easy and painless) and strategies that restrict access to barbecue charcoal may help to halt the epidemic of charcoal-burning suicide in East Asia.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000212.
Another PLoS Medicine research article by David Studdert and colleagues investigates the relationship between changes in vehicle emissions laws and the incidence of suicide by motor vehicle exhaust gas in Australia
The World Health Organization provides information on the global burden of suicide and on suicide prevention (in several languages); see also the article Methods of Suicide: International Suicide Patterns Derived from the WHO Mortality Database
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on suicide and suicide prevention
The UK National Health Service Choices website has detailed information about suicide and its prevention
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about suicide (in English and Spanish)
The Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center provides information on suicide and its prevention in Taiwan (in Chinese)
The Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention, the University of Hong Kong, provides information on suicide and its prevention in Hong Kong (in Chinese and English)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000212
PMCID: PMC2794367  PMID: 20052273
20.  The prevalence of suicidal ideation identified by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale in postpartum women in primary care: findings from the RESPOND trial 
1 Abstract
1.1 Background
Suicide is a leading cause of perinatal maternal deaths in industrialised countries but there has been little research to investigate prevalence or correlates of postpartum suicidality. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is widely used in primary and maternity services to screen for perinatal depressive disorders, and includes a question on suicidal ideation (question 10). We aimed to investigate the prevalence, persistence and correlates of suicidal thoughts in postpartum women in the context of a randomised controlled trial of treatments for postnatal depression.
1.2 Methods
Women in primary care were sent postal questionnaires at 6 weeks postpartum to screen for postnatal depression before recruitment into an RCT. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) was used to screen for postnatal depression and in those with high levels of symptoms, a home visit with a standardised psychiatric interview was carried out using the Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised version (CIS-R). Other socio-demographic and clinical variables were measured, including functioning (SF12) and quality of the marital relationship (GRIMS). Women who entered the trial were followed up for 18 weeks.
1.3 Results
9% of 4,150 women who completed the EPDS question relating to suicidal ideation reported some suicidal ideation (including hardly ever); 4% reported that the thought of harming themselves had occurred to them sometimes or quite often. In women who entered the randomised trial and completed the EPDS question relating to suicidal ideation (n = 253), suicidal ideation was associated with younger age, higher parity and higher levels of depressive symptoms in the multivariate analysis. Endorsement of 'yes, quite often' to question 10 on the EPDS was associated with affirming at least two CIS-R items on suicidality. We found no association between suicidal ideation and SF-12 physical or mental health or the EPDS total score at 18 weeks.
1.4 Conclusions
Healthcare professionals using the EPDS should be aware of the significant suicidality that is likely to be present in women endorsing 'yes, quite often' to question 10 of the EPDS. However, suicidal ideation does not appear to predict poor outcomes in women being treated for postnatal depression.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN16479417.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-57
PMCID: PMC3161003  PMID: 21812968
21.  Completed suicides among the Inuit of northern Quebec, 1982–1996: a case–control study 
Background
The rate of completed suicide among Inuit in Canada has been alarmingly high in recent years, and the suicide rate among Inuit in northern Quebec has increased since 1982. Our objectives were to describe the characteristics of Inuit people who died by suicide in Nunavik between 1982 and 1996, and to identify the antecedents and correlates of completed suicide.
Methods
We carried out a case–control study of 71 people who died by suicide between 1982 and 1996 and 71 population-based living control subjects matched for sex, community of residence and age within 1 year. Comprehensive medical charts were reviewed for data on sociodemographic characteristics, medical and psychiatric history, childhood separations and family history, and use of health care services.
Results
Most of the case subjects were single males aged 15 to 24 years. The two principal means of suicide were hanging (in 39 cases [54.9%]) and gunshot (in 21 cases [29.6%]). About 33% had been in contact with medical personnel in the month before their death. The case subjects were significantly more likely than the control subjects to have received a lifetime psychiatric diagnosis (one or more of depression, personality disorder or conduct disorder) (odds ratio [OR] 4.3 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2–15.2]) and to have had a history of psychiatric symptoms, disorder (including solvent sniffing) or treatment (OR 3.5 [95% CI 1.4–8.7]). The case subjects had experienced more severe types of nonpsychiatric illnesses and injuries than the control subjects (p = 0.04). The case subjects had more lifetime contacts with health care services than the control subjects (p = 0.01) and were more likely than the control subjects to have had contact with health care services in the year before death of the case subject (p = 0.03), even when psychiatric diagnoses were controlled for in conditional regression analysis (OR 1.02 [95% CI 1.01–1.04] and 5.0 [95% CI 1.07–23.7] respectively).
Interpretation
Since case subjects had frequent contact with health care services, frontline medical personnel may be in a position to identify people at risk for suicide.
PMCID: PMC81452  PMID: 11584562
22.  Time to Emergence of Severe Suicidal Ideation among Psychiatric Patients as a Function of Suicide Attempt History 
Comprehensive psychiatry  2007;49(1):6-12.
Background
Little is known about the emergence of suicidal ideation among psychiatric inpatients with histories of no, single, or multiple suicide attempts. We investigated differences in time to reemergence of severe suicidal ideation among psychiatric patients as a function of their suicide attempt histories.
Method
One hundred seventeen individuals meeting criteria for a major depressive disorder who were recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital and participating in a larger study of treatments for depression were included in the current study. Suicidal ideation, depressive symptoms, hopelessness, and depressogenic cognitions were assessed at baseline, and suicidal ideation was assessed at 3, 6, 12, and 18 month follow up, as well as inpatient readmission if applicable. Time to the reemergence of severe suicidal ideation was analyzed using survival analysis.
Results
Twenty-two percent of our sample reported the occurrence of severe suicidal ideation over an 18-month period. Severe suicidal ideation emerged earlier among patients who had a history of prior suicide attempts than those who did not, but single and multiple suicide attempters did not differ significantly in time to severe suicidal ideation. Suicide attempt history remained a significant predictor of time to severe suicidal ideation when statistically controlling for hopelessness, depressive symptoms, depressogenic cognitions, and suicidal ideation at admission and initial treatment group assignment, especially between single and non-attempters.
Conclusions
Although nearly a quarter of participants endorsed severe, clinically significant suicidal ideation within 18 months of discharge, those with suicide attempt histories reported the occurrence of severe suicidal ideation significantly earlier than those without suicide attempt histories.
doi:10.1016/j.comppsych.2007.07.006
PMCID: PMC4120022  PMID: 18063035
23.  Parental Psychopathology and the Risk of Suicidal Behavior in their Offspring: Results from the World Mental Health Surveys 
Molecular psychiatry  2010;16(12):1221-1233.
Prior research suggests that parental psychopathology predicts suicidal behavior among offspring; however, the more fine-grained associations between specific parental disorders and distinct stages of the pathway to suicide are not well-understood. We set out to test the hypothesis that parental disorders associated with negative mood would predict offspring suicide ideation, whereas disorders characterized by impulsive-aggression (e,g., antisocial personality) and anxiety/agitation (e.g., panic disorder) would predict which offspring act on their suicide ideation and make a suicide attempt. Data were collected during face-to-face interviews conducted on nationally representative samples (N=55,299; age 18+) from 21 countries around the world. We tested the associations between a range of parental disorders and the onset and persistence over time (i.e., time-since-most-recent-episode controlling for age-of-onset and time-since-onset) of subsequent suicidal behavior (suicide ideation, plans, and attempts) among offspring. Analyses tested bivariate and multivariate associations between each parental disorder and distinct forms of suicidal behavior. Results revealed that each parental disorder examined increased the risk of suicide ideation among offspring, parental generalized anxiety and depression emerged as the only predictors of the onset and persistence (respectively) of suicide plans among offspring with ideation, whereas parental anti-social personality and anxiety disorders emerged as the only predictors of the onset and persistence of suicide attempts among ideators. A dose-response relation between parental disorders and respondent risk of suicide ideation and attempt also was found. Parental death by suicide was a particularly strong predictor of persistence of suicide attempts among offspring. These associations remained significant after controlling for comorbidity of parental disorders and for the presence of mental disorders among offspring. These findings should inform future explorations of the mechanisms of inter-generational transmission of suicidal behavior.
doi:10.1038/mp.2010.111
PMCID: PMC3142278  PMID: 21079606
suicide; parent and family history; intergenerational transmission
24.  DOES PTSD MODERATE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SOCIAL SUPPORT AND SUICIDE RISK IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN WAR VETERANS SEEKING MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT? 
Depression and anxiety  2010;27(11):1001-1005.
Objective
This study examined posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a potential moderating variable in the relationship between social support and elevated suicide risk in a sample of treatment-seeking Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans.
Method
As part of routine care, self-reported marital status, satisfaction with social networks, PTSD, and recent suicidality were assessed in Veterans (N = 431) referred for mental health services at a large Veteran Affairs Medical Center. Logistic regression analyses were conducted using this cross-sectional data sample to test predictions of diminished influence of social support on suicide risk in Veterans reporting PTSD.
Results
Thirteen percent of Veterans were classified as being at elevated risk for suicide. Married Veterans were less likely to be at elevated suicide risk relative to unmarried Veterans and Veterans reporting greater satisfaction with their social networks were less likely to be at elevated risk relative to Veterans reporting lower satisfaction. Satisfaction with social networks was protective for suicide risk in PTSD and non-PTSD cases, but was significantly less protective for veterans reporting PTSD.
Conclusions
Veterans who are married and Veterans who report greater satisfaction with social networks are less likely to endorse suicidal thoughts or behaviors suggestive of elevated suicide risk. However, the presence of PTSD may diminish the protective influence of social networks among treatment-seeking Veterans. Depression and Anxiety 27:1001–1005, 2010.
doi:10.1002/da.20722
PMCID: PMC3038554  PMID: 20721901
suicide; social support; PTSD; Iraq; Afghanistan
25.  Regional Changes in Charcoal-Burning Suicide Rates in East/Southeast Asia from 1995 to 2011: A Time Trend Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(4):e1001622.
Using a time trend analysis, Ying-Yeh Chen and colleagues examine the evidence for regional increases in charcoal-burning suicide rates in East and Southeast Asia from 1995 to 2011.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Suicides by carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from burning barbecue charcoal reached epidemic levels in Hong Kong and Taiwan within 5 y of the first reported cases in the early 2000s. The objectives of this analysis were to investigate (i) time trends and regional patterns of charcoal-burning suicide throughout East/Southeast Asia during the time period 1995–2011 and (ii) whether any rises in use of this method were associated with increases in overall suicide rates. Sex- and age-specific trends over time were also examined to identify the demographic groups showing the greatest increases in charcoal-burning suicide rates across different countries.
Methods and Findings
We used data on suicides by gases other than domestic gas for Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore in the years 1995/1996–2011. Similar data for Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand were also extracted but were incomplete. Graphical and joinpoint regression analyses were used to examine time trends in suicide, and negative binomial regression analysis to study sex- and age-specific patterns. In 1995/1996, charcoal-burning suicides accounted for <1% of all suicides in all study countries, except in Japan (5%), but they increased to account for 13%, 24%, 10%, 7%, and 5% of all suicides in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore, respectively, in 2011. Rises were first seen in Hong Kong after 1998 (95% CI 1997–1999), followed by Singapore in 1999 (95% CI 1998–2001), Taiwan in 2000 (95% CI 1999–2001), Japan in 2002 (95% CI 1999–2003), and the Republic of Korea in 2007 (95% CI 2006–2008). No marked increases were seen in Malaysia, the Philippines, or Thailand. There was some evidence that charcoal-burning suicides were associated with an increase in overall suicide rates in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan (for females), but not in Japan (for males), the Republic of Korea, and Singapore. Rates of change in charcoal-burning suicide rate did not differ by sex/age group in Taiwan and Hong Kong but appeared to be greatest in people aged 15–24 y in Japan and people aged 25–64 y in the Republic of Korea. The lack of specific codes for charcoal-burning suicide in the International Classification of Diseases and variations in coding practice in different countries are potential limitations of this study.
Conclusions
Charcoal-burning suicides increased markedly in some East/Southeast Asian countries (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore) in the first decade of the 21st century, but such rises were not experienced by all countries in the region. In countries with a rise in charcoal-burning suicide rates, the timing, scale, and sex/age pattern of increases varied by country. Factors underlying these variations require further investigation, but may include differences in culture or in media portrayals of the method.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, almost one million people die by suicide globally; suicide is the fifth leading cause of death in women aged 15–49 and the sixth leading cause of death in men in the same age group. Most people who take their own life are mentally ill. For others, stressful events (the loss of a partner, for example) have made life seem worthless or too painful to bear. Strategies to reduce suicide rates include better treatment of mental illness and programs that help people at high risk of suicide deal with stress. Suicide rates can also be reduced by limiting access to common suicide methods. These methods vary from place to place. Hanging is the predominant suicide method in many countries, but in Hong Kong, for example, jumping from a high building is the most common method. Suicide methods also vary over time. For example, after a woman in Hong Kong took her life in 1998 by burning barbecue charcoal in a sealed room (a process that produces the toxic gas carbon monoxide), charcoal burning rapidly went from being a rare method of killing oneself in Hong Kong to the second most common suicide method.
Why Was This Study Done?
Cases of charcoal-burning suicide have also been reported in several East and Southeast Asian countries, but there has been no systematic investigation of time trends and regional patterns of this form of suicide. A better understanding of regional changes in the number of charcoal-burning suicides might help to inform efforts to prevent the emergence of other new suicide methods. Here, the researchers investigate the time trends and regional patterns of charcoal-burning suicide in several countries in East and Southeast Asia between 1995 and 2011 and ask whether any rises in the use of this method are associated with increases in overall suicide rates. The researchers also investigate sex- and age-specific time trends in charcoal-burning suicides to identify which groups of people show the greatest increases in this form of suicide across different countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed method-specific data on suicide deaths for Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore between 1995/1996 and 2011 obtained from the World Health Organization Mortality Database and from national death registers. In 1995/1996, charcoal-burning suicides accounted for less than 1% of all suicides in all these countries except Japan (4.9%). By 2011, charcoal-burning suicides accounted for between 5% (Singapore) and 24% (Taiwan) of all suicides. Rises in the rate of charcoal-burning suicide were first seen in Hong Kong in 1999, in Singapore in 2000, in Taiwan in 2001, in Japan in 2003, and in the Republic of Korea in 2008. By contrast, incomplete data from Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand showed no evidence of a marked increase in charcoal-burning suicide in these countries over the same period. Charcoal-burning suicides were associated with an increase in overall suicide rates in Hong Kong in 1998–2003, in Taiwan in 2000–2006, and in Japanese women after 2003. Finally, the annual rate of change in charcoal-burning suicide rate did not differ by sex/age group in Taiwan and Hong Kong, whereas in Japan people aged 15–24 and in the Republic of Korea people aged 25–64 tended to have the greatest rates of increase.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that charcoal-burning suicides increased markedly in several but not all East and Southeast Asian countries during the first decade of the 21st century. Moreover, in countries where there was an increase, the timing, scale, and sex/age pattern of the increase varied by country. The accuracy of these findings is likely to be limited by several aspects of the study. For example, because of the way that method-specific suicides are recorded in the World Health Organization Mortality Database and national death registries, the researchers may have slightly overestimated the number of charcoal-burning suicides. Further studies are now needed to identify the factors that underlie the variations between countries in charcoal-burning suicide rates and time trends reported here. However, the current findings highlight the need to undertake surveillance to identify the emergence of new suicide methods and the importance of policy makers, the media, and internet service providers working together to restrict graphic and detailed descriptions of new suicide methods.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001622.
A PLOS Medicine research article by Shu-Sen Chang and colleagues investigates time trends and regional patterns of charcoal-burning suicide in Taiwan
The World Health Organization provides information on the global burden of suicide and on suicide prevention (in several languages); it also has an article on international patterns in methods of suicide
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on suicide and suicide prevention
The UK National Health Service Choices website has detailed information about suicide and its prevention
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about suicide (in English and Spanish)
The International Association for Suicide Prevention provides links to crisis centers in Asia
The charity Healthtalkonline has personal stories about dealing with suicide
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001622
PMCID: PMC3972087  PMID: 24691071

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