Tuesday June 26, 2018

Suicide is Preventable: Alarming Effects of Self-harm on Families, Communities, Societies

There are 3.5 male suicides for every female suicide, but three times as many females as males attempt suicide

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Deliberate self harm
Feelings of helplessness, stemming from a variety of social and cultural factors can force an adolescent to indulge in self-harm. Pixabay
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  • September 10 is observed as World Suicide Precention Day
  • Every year some 800,000 people die as a result of suicide
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds and 2nd for 24 to 35-year-olds
  • Suicide claims more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined
  • There are 3.5 male suicides for every female suicide, but three times as many females as males attempt suicide

Sept 11, 2016:

Dorothy Paugh was nine when her father took his life. “I count that day as the last day of my childhood. Because from that moment on, I had no sense of security. I had no sense that the world was a safe place,” she said.

Her father was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, a place of repose for presidents and military heroes. Paugh’s father served bravely in World War II. After his death, the White House sent a letter from “a grateful nation” that her mother hung prominently on the wall by the front door. Paugh says her mother wanted her children to remember their father as a war hero, and not to focus how he died. But, they never spoke about his death. Paugh said it was a special type of isolation.

Suicide is committed every year by the poor as well as the rich people.World Health Organization says about 75 percent of suicides happen in low and middle-income countries, where it was the second leading cause of death in 2012, the last year for which the WHO has statistics. In that year, it was the 15th leading cause of death worldwide. Young people between the ages of 15 and 29 are particularly vulnerable.

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There are 3.5 male suicides for every female suicide, but three times as many females as males attempt suicide.

494,169 people visited a hospital for injuries due to self-harm behavior, suggesting that approximately 12 people harm themselves (not necessarily intending to take their lives) for every reported death by suicide.

Suicide is preventable

But medical experts say suicide is preventable, and they try to draw attention to that on World Suicide Prevention Day, which this year is September 10. Most suicidal individuals give warning signs or signals of their intentions. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognize these warning signs and know how to respond if you spot them.

Paul Gionfriddo, president of Mental Health America, compares suicide to the end stage of cancer, a terminal point in mental illness or disease.Gionfriddo said, “Suicide is the ultimate stage four event for a lot of people who have serious mental illnesses, and frankly it’s the ultimate stage four, late-stage event for a lot of people with other kinds of chronic diseases as well, too, who might not have had a mental illness.”

The best way to prevent suicide is through early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of depression and other mental health conditions.

On its web page, the World Health Organization notes that “early identification and treatment of depression and alcohol use disorders are key for the prevention of suicide…as well as follow-up contact with those who have attempted suicide, and psychosocial support in communities.” Experts also say people need to change the notion that those who commit suicide are cowards.Paugh says she thinks her father got overwhelmed. “He was no coward. He fought in World War II.”

Guns and suicide

The WHO urges countries to reduce access to the means of suicide. Statistics show having access to a firearm increases the risk of suicide, and in fact, in the U.S., half of all suicides are committed with a gun. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said there are ways to change that statistic. “We can make the firearm safer. We can make people safer with their firearms, and then we can make the environment itself safer.”

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Paugh’s son Peter bought a gun, to go target shooting and for protection. Then her life was shaken once more. “I lost my son in 2012,” she said. Peter was 25 years old when he shot himself.

Paugh often carries her favorite picture of her son. “It’s so understated, but he has piercing blue eyes. He’s paying attention. He’s looking at the world with love, I think.” And he has a hint of a smile on his handsome, young face.

One death every 40 seconds

Every year some 800,000 people die as a result of suicide. The World Health Organization says this translates to one death every 40 seconds. Beyond this, suicide impact families, societies, and communities.

Paugh agrees. “The ripple effect is enormous…his brothers, his girlfriend, myself, his father. It’s a shock that takes years to recover…to find footing again.”

The shock of the suicide deaths of her father and her son inspired her to become a suicide prevention advocate. “If we think someone may be troubled, ask them outright if they are having thoughts of suicide. It’s not a comfortable conversation, but it’s a lot more comfortable than a funeral….That’s my hope and my purpose in speaking about suicide. So people know it is preventable.” (VOA)

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  • Karen Ercolani

    Suicide is not such a bad thing.

    :

  • Anubhuti Gupta

    ‘One death every 40 seconds’ Yet the help provided and the sensitisation is so less

  • Manthra koliyer

    People who attempt suicide are a threat to the society

  • Enakshi

    Suicide is no solution to ones problems, thank god its preventable now

Next Story

Microbes May Be Stirring Up Anxiety And Depression In Obese People

To test the theory, Kahn and colleagues fed mice a high-fat diet and studied their behavior as the animals became obese

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Microbes May Be Stirring Up Anxiety And Depression In Obese People
Microbes May Be Stirring Up Anxiety And Depression In Obese People, Pixabay

Microbes may be helping stir up anxiety and depression in obese people, if results from a new mouse study hold true in humans.

The authors link the effects to how the brain responds to insulin, the hormone that regulates sugar levels in the blood.

The research raises questions about whether changing gut microbes, or changing diet, could help treat these conditions.

Mood, microbes and metabolism

Obesity triggers changes in metabolism — for example, making liver, muscle, fat and other tissues less responsive to insulin. Left untreated, these changes can lead to diabetes.

Obese people also have higher rates of anxiety and depression.

“One could say, ‘Maybe that’s just because they’re obese,’ ” said Harvard Medical School diabetes researcher Ronald Kahn, “but others could say, ‘Maybe there’s a metabolic link.’ ”

“And we asked the question, ‘Maybe the metabolic link is at least partly fueled by the microbiome,’ ” the community of microbes living in a person’s gut, he added.

Those microbes change with diet, and Kahn said different microbes might respond differently to the foods we eat.

To test the theory, Kahn and colleagues fed mice a high-fat diet and studied their behavior as the animals became obese.

They used common tests to gauge anxious and depressed behavior in rodents — for example, how much time the animals spent hiding in a dark box versus exploring a brightly lit area. The more anxious the mouse, the less time it will spend in the light.

Obese mice spent about 25 percent less time in the light than animals on a normal diet, and they scored higher on the other anxiety and depression tests, too.

obesity
obesity, Pixabay

Return to normal

But those differences disappeared when obese mice were given antibiotics, even though their weight didn’t change much.

“That really says there’s probably something about the microbiome,” Kahn said.

The researchers then tested how the animals’ microbiomes affected mice raised in a sterile environment with no microbes of their own.

Bacteria from obese rodents made these germ-free mice more anxious than microbes from normal mice.

But when germ-free mice got microbes from obese animals that had been given antibiotics, they behaved like normal mice.

To see what parts of the brain might be responsible for the effects, the researchers focused on two regions involved in metabolism and responses to rewards. They found these regions were less responsive to insulin in the obese mice compared with normal-weight animals.

Again, antibiotics returned those responses to normal.

The research appears in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

“It was actually quite a surprise,” Kahn said. “Even though we had seen some effects on metabolism in the rest of the body, I was very surprised how dramatic and how clear the effects were also on the brain and on behavior.”

Into the unknown

That doesn’t mean antibiotics are the cure for depression, Kahn warned. The drugs kill good and bad microbes indiscriminately, and taking the medication unnecessarily can contribute to the rising threat of antibiotic resistance.

Also, what happens in mice does not necessarily happen in humans, he added, or it may happen for only some people. So far, there is not much evidence that probiotics help anxious people.

scale
scale, Pixabay

“The difficulty is, both of these things — depression and obesity — are complicated things that have multiple, multiple factors influencing them,” said mental health researcher Gregory Simon at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, who was not part of the study.

Microbes are likely just one factor, along with environment, genetics, social influences and more, Simon added.

But Kahn said his group’s research raised interesting questions about how food affects our behavior.

“I think now we can get some idea that there are a lot of things that are being metabolized by gut bacteria that could affect brain function,” he said.

And he said there might be ways to change brain function by changing those bacteria, by eating helpful microbes or by eating foods that sustain them.

Also read: Two New Ways To Prevent Cholera: Microbes Fighting Microbes

He and his colleagues are working to figure out exactly which of the hundreds of species of gut bacteria are responsible. At the moment, it’s a mystery. (VOA)