Tag Archives: #suicide

These Factors Increase Or Decrease Suicidal Behavior Risk in Adolescents (Psychology)

An analysis of relevant studies published to date has identified certain risk factors associated with suicidal behavior in adolescents. The analysis also revealed certain protective factors that may reduce the likelihood of suicidal behavior.

An analysis of relevant studies published to date has identified certain risk factors associated with suicidal behavior in adolescents. Image credit: Heni D. Windarwati

The analysis, which is published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, included 66 studies. Internal risk factors included poor individual coping, smartphone abuse, nutritional imbalance, menstrual problems, poor lifestyle, and disturbed sleep patterns. External risk factors for adolescent suicide behavior included mental health history in parents, poor interactions in the family, and social problems.

Reframing to have a meaningful life, adequate nutrition, parent-child interactions, reading books and watching movies, and faith or religiosity are protective factors that may reduce the risk of suicidal behavior in adolescents.

“Loving others is imperative, loving yourself is courage. Don’t be afraid to love yourself–you have to fight for yourself before fighting for others,” said senior author Heni D. Windarwati, of the Universitas Brawijaya, in Indonesia.

References: Ati, NAL, Paraswati, MD, Windarwati, HD. What are the risk factors and protective factors of suicidal behavior in adolescents? A systematic review. J Child Adolesc Psychiatr Nurs. 2020; 1– 12. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/jcap.12295

Individual Suicide Risk Can Be Dramatically Altered By Social ‘Sameness’ (Psychology)

Similarities among individuals living in the same communities can dramatically change their risk of dying by suicide, according to a new study by Indiana University researchers.

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The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined the relationship between suicide and social “sameness” — living in communities with other individuals who share common social characteristics, such as employment and marital status, ethnicity or place of birth. Researchers found that social similarity reduced well-known individual risks of suicide for those younger than 45, unemployed, widowed, white, Black or not born in the United States.

But sameness was not always protective. Social similarity increased suicide risk for individuals who were born in the United States, had never married, or were Alaska Native, Native American, Hispanic or Asian, according to the study.

“This study breaks a longstanding barrier to understanding the link between individual suicide risk and community-based risk,” said Bernice Pescosolido, co-author of the study and a Distinguished Professor of Sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington. “This offers new insights into how complex the relationship between suicide and cultural and social connections is. Science has been challenged to get beyond the split between looking at individuals and looking at communities in the U.S. Sameness allows us to think about the role of connectedness in new ways.”

Researchers merged data from a number of sources, including the National Violence Data Reporting System and the American Community Survey, to examine whether “sameness” between individuals and where they live affected their risk of suicide in the U.S. between 2005 and 2011.

Suicide in America has been on the rise, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pressing the need for new approaches to reduce risk. While individual suicide risks have been previously documented in individuals, the finding that those risks change depending on social geography has previously been difficult to establish in the U.S., Pescosolido said.

“These findings challenge the idea of a ‘one size fits all’ approach to programs trying to reduce suicide — even for targeted groups like teens, where the increase has been great,” she said. “We need to consider where they are.”

Traditional treatment and prevention efforts have focused around the idea that strong social ties protect people from suicide, and those who lose or do not have those connections are thought to be more at risk of suicide.

But according to Pescosolido and her colleagues, social similarity is not always a strong lever to reduce suicide risk. For example, their findings suggest that in isolated communities or those communities where socio-economic devastation has been great, similarity can actually increase the risks of suicide.

“With the burdens that people are experiencing due to the pandemic, this study reinforces calls for fresh approaches to understanding suicide risk,” Pescosolido, said. “Knowing how social context alters individual suicide risk provides a path toward personalized and tailored strategies for anti-suicide programs, policies and treatment.”

References: Bernice A. Pescosolido, Byungkyu Lee, and Karen Kafadar, “Cross-level sociodemographic homogeneity alters individual risk for completed suicide”, PNAS first published October 5, 2020; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2006333117 link: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/09/30/2006333117

Provided by Indiana University

The High Place Phenomenon Is A Strange Urge To Jump Off A Bridge (Psychology)

If you’ve ever sat atop a steep cliff, or on the observation deck of a skyscraper, and looked straight down, you probably remember thinking about how easy it would be to jump. If you’re reading this now, we can safely assume you didn’t — but where does this irrational, obviously suicidal urge come from? Psychologists call it the “high place phenomenon,” and they say it may even be a sign of a healthy mind.

Psychology researchers have found that the urge to jump off a bridge or veer off a cliff is actually surprisingly common. A 2012 study found that it occurs both to people who report having suicidal thoughts and to people who have never shown suicidal tendencies whatsoever. Roughly 50 percent of the non-suicidal study respondents reported having an inexplicable urge to jump from a dangerously high place.

The study’s authors think that the high place phenomenon is a matter of your brain playing a trick on you. Although you weren’t actually going to jump off of the cliff, simply seeing the edge triggers a subconscious fear response that the conscious mind attempts to rationalize. Conscious thought works more slowly than emotional response and the rest of the human brain’s auto-pilot circuitry, which is why you pull your hand away from a hot stove before even thinking about it. In this case, there is no stove, so the conscious mind looks for a rationalization of its fear and says to itself, “Oh no, I must have wanted to jump!”

Another theory suggests that the phenomenon comes from the human tendency to gamble when faced with great risk. It may be that a fear of heights and a fear of death aren’t completely connected in our minds, so while looking down off of a precipice sets off alarm bells, your mind may hold onto an irrational belief that if you could only get to the ground somehow, you’d be safe. So you might as well take the risk and jump.

Scientists and philosophers are just beginning to scratch the surface of the way experiences like the high place phenomenon work. Both fear response and gambit theories rely on the idea that human beings are largely unaware of their own thoughts, motives, and judgments. In 2017, Peter Carruthers published a compelling argument for the idea that we’re all fundamentally unaware of our own thoughts and that the idea that we know them is a convenient illusion — our brains playing another trick on us. This theory explains how the high place phenomenon (and many other irrational behaviors) can take place in our minds, even though everyone likes to think they act in a more-or-less rational way.