Psychedelic Use Associated with Reductions in Suicidal Tendencies

People who have taken a psychedelic drug at least once in their lives have significantly less suicidal thinking and are less likely to attempt suicide than the general population, according to a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. More →

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“How a Patient Suicide Affects Psychiatrists”

"It’s hard to listen to a psychiatrist who sounds so broken," writes Sulome Anderson in The Atlantic, discussing with a psychiatrist how it feels when a patient commits suicide. More →

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There are No Proven Psychosocial Therapies that Reduce Self-harming in Teens

There are no psychosocial treatments or psychotherapeutic methods that are proven to effectively reduce thoughts and behaviors of self-harm in youth, according to a review of the scientific literature by a team of Harvard University psychologists publishing in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. More →

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The Eight Lessons of Suicide

Losing a loved one to suicide hurts like hell: there’s an obvious truth if there ever was one. But there are other truths, some hard, some hopeful. If you’ve suffered such a loss yourself, you know too much of these truths already.
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Researchers Claim to Show for First Time that Therapy Can Prevent Suicides

"Repeat suicide attempts and deaths by suicide were roughly 25 percent lower among a group of Danish people who underwent voluntary short-term psychosocial counseling after a suicide attempt," states a press release about a Danish study in The Lancet Psychiatry. "The findings are believed to be the first to show that talk therapy-focused suicide prevention actually works." More →

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Suicide Attempts During Teens Not Linked to Problems Later in Life

Suicide attempts during adolescence are not strongly associated with suicide risk or depression later in life, according to research from a joint Canadian and US team in the journal Depression and Anxiety. More →

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“Should Suicidal Students Be Forced to Leave Campus?”

In The New Yorker, Rachel Aviv discusses an apparently common practice among some US universities to expel students who attempt suicide -- even when the patients' own psychiatrists sometimes disagree. More →

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Previously Hidden Data Shows Anti-flu Drug Linked to Psychosis and Suicides

"(A)t least 70 people have died, many of them by suicide, after Tamiflu-induced episodes," reports Newsweek, in an article about the popular anti-flu drug and other examples of pharmaceutical companies hiding vital clinical trial data from physicians and the public. "The deaths were almost surreal: A 14-year-old who took Tamiflu jumped off a balcony, and a 17-year-old on the drug ran in front of a truck." More →

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New Bill Mandates Independent Review of Veterans’ Suicide-Prevention Programs

"A bipartisan group of senators recently introduced the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention bill, an attempt to improve the Department of Veterans' Affairs suicide-prevention efforts," reported USA Today. "The bill would require VA and the Pentagon to submit to an independent review of all of their suicide-prevention programs." The bill coincided with special hearings on veterans and suicide held this week by the US Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. More →

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“Clients and Suicide: The Lawyer’s Dilemma”

If their clients admit to having suicidal feelings or show evidence of serious psychological problems, how do lawyers' legal responsibilities to their clients change in different circumstances? Attorney and former legal librarian Ken Strutin provides a collection of summaries and links to ethics opinions, legal decisions, law reviews, bibliographies and other resources that explore various kinds of situations like these under US law. More →

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Robin Williams On Antidepressant at Time of Suicide

Robin Williams had "therapeutic" levels of the tetra-cyclic antidepressant mirtazapine in his blood at the time of his suicide, according to the coroner's report on his death, posted in its entirety by TMZ. More →

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Farming with Pesticides Linked to Increased Suicidal Depression

Exposure to pesticides is linked to significant increases in suicidal depression in farmers, according to a study by US National Institute of Health researchers discussed in Munchies. "These dangerous chemicals, researchers found, alter farmers’ brain chemistry, increasing their risk of depression by up to 90 percent." More →

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Suicide Warnings on Antidepressants Debated in NEJM

In the New England Journal of Medicine, Richard Friedman and Marc Stone present very different arguments about the reliability of the body of research into antidepressants, suicidality, and FDA black box warnings, and what that body of research is truly telling us. More →

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40,000 Suicides Annually and America Still Shrugs

In my last two posts, Back in the Dark House Again: The Recurrent Nature of Clinical Depression and Am I Having a Breakdown or Breakthrough? Further Reflections on a Depressive Relapse, I have shared my recent relapse into depression. Although it has been tough, when I wake up each morning I am grateful for one thing — I am not suicidal. Others are not as fortunate.


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Samaritans’ Online Suicide Surveillance App an Ethical Minefield

In Gigaom, privacy and security journalist David Meyer discusses the release of a new app from the UK Samaritans called "Radar." The app monitors and automatically "alerts people to potentially suicidal tweets made by those they follow." Meyer admits at first he liked the app, but with links to a wide range of other commentators, he now describes the app as an "ethical and legal minefield." More →

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Could Psychiatric Care Be Causing Suicides?

What is the reason that people are 44.3 times more likely to commit suicide if they've visited a psychiatric hospital within the year? AlterNet has published a commentary by Mad In America News Editor Rob Wipond, discussing the implications of a recent Danish study that either found the best predictors of suicide ever identified, or the worst causes of suicide ever identified. More →

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Most Confidential Crisis Lines Covertly Trace Calls, Send Police

Most crisis lines across the US trace calls and send police to people's homes if crisis line staff feel someone might be at risk of suicide, according to an article in Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, the official journal of the American Association of Suicidology. A new policy developed in 2012 has clarified and more firmly entrenched this longstanding practice, stated the article. Even two Samaritans call centers which historically had resisted the policy have now implemented the covert practice. More →

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No Psychotherapies are Effective in Preventing Teen Suicides

There are no psychosocial therapies of any kind that have a strong evidence base for reducing suicidal or self-harm tendencies in adolescents, according to a review of the scientific literature by Harvard University psychologists published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. More →

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Emergency Departments to “Save Lives” With Psychological Test Algorithms

The US National Institute of Mental Health is outfitting a network of hospital emergency departments across the country with "a personalized, computer-based suicide risk screening tool" for teenagers. "We plan to refine algorithms capable of predicting which youth are most likely to attempt suicide," stated lead developer Cheryl King of the University of Michigan in an NIMH press release. More →

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Smoking Cessation and Psychiatric Drugs Cause the Most Suicidal and Homicidal Reactions

The popular smoking cessation drug Chantix is the medication that most frequently makes people feel suicidal or homicidal, according to figures gathered by the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices (ISMP) and published in their QuarterWatch. And five of the other top ten medications that most often make people report feeling suicidal or homicidal are common psychiatric medications. More →

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Angry Caller to Help Line Tracked, Incarcerated in Psychiatric Hospital & Billed

John Albers was completely surprised when police came to his home at midnight and insisted on taking him to a psychiatric hospital, where he was held against his will for seven hours and then charged $2007.75 for it. According to the report and legal analysis on Credit.com, Albers could well be on the hook for the charges because he'd earlier left an angry message with a suicide hotline about its long wait-times. More →

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Suicides Rise Dramatically with Increasing Psychiatric Care

As the amount of involvement that people have with psychiatric professionals and psychiatric care increases, the likelihood that they will commit suicide rises steadily and dramatically, according to a study in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. Taking psychiatric medications makes people nearly 6 times more likely to kill themselves, while having spent time in the previous year in a psychiatric hospital makes them over 44 times more likely to kill themselves. The findings suggested that clinical tools for assessing suicide risk are not working well, stated the Danish authors of the broad-based study of the Denmark population. However, an accompanying editorial suggested the findings more likely showed that "psychiatric care might, at least in part, cause suicide." More →

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Self-harm and Suicides Rise by 56% in UK Psychiatric Hospitals

A rising number of people in UK psychiatric hospitals are harming themselves or trying to take their own lives, according to statistics from the UK National Health Service. "The number of such incidents at 29 of England's 52 NHS mental health trusts rose from 14,815 in 2010 to 23,053 last year, an increase of 56% over four years," reports The Guardian. "The average number per trust rose from 511 to 795 last year over the same period." More →

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Job Losses Among Youth Linked to Increased Suicidal Behaviors

A state's rate of job losses is linked to its rates of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide plans in young people of African American descent and in young women, according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health. "Job losses among 1% of a state’s working-age population increased the probability of girls and Blacks reporting suicide-related behaviors by 2 to 3 percentage points," wrote the researchers. More →

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Life & Death: Robin Williams, Suicide “Prevention,” and the World as We Know It

I’ve been very, very sad lately. Some might even call me “depressed.” There are a lot of reasons. Robin Williams’ suicide is not one of them. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not happy about what has come of him. I have fond memories of Mork and Mindy, just like everyone else over the age of 30 or so. It is unquestionably sad to learn he was hurting so much, and even harder to reconcile that with his relentlessly upbeat public persona. On a personal level, it hurts at least a little to know that someone who experienced that level of success (about which most can only dream) also fell so far and experienced so much despair.
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