Patients with psychiatric illnesses are at increased risk for suicide. The lifetime risk of suicide in bipolar disorder is 1–2%. The lifetime risk of suicide in schizophrenia is 0.5–1%. Suicide is the leading cause of death in individuals with severe mental illness, who account for about 10% of all suicides.
The most common method of suicidal patients is hanging/suffocation, which accounts for about 44% of suicides in this group. A history of suicide attempts is also an independent predictor for future endeavors and deaths by suicide among psychiatric patients.
Suicide prevention efforts include identifying and treating patients at high risk for suicide (e.g., those with depression) and educating others on recognizing those at risk.
The best way to spot the risk for suicide in psychiatric patients is by paying attention to the following symptoms:
· A sense of hopelessness or feeling like there's no reason to live anymore.
· Talking about killing themselves, even if it's only out of anger.
· Talking about feeling like a burden or wanting to die because they think they're a burden on others.
· Lack of energy or interest in things they used to love doing—like hobbies or sports.
· Feeling disconnected from friends and family members, even if they still see each other regularly (you can tell if someone has a disconnection with their social circle by asking them questions about their friends and family).
A suicide risk assessment is critical to treating all patients, particularly those with psychiatric disorders.
Many factors can contribute to a person's desire to commit suicide. While some people have a genetic predisposition for depression and suicidal ideation, others may be influenced by external factors such as family history, trauma, or substance use. The following list includes some of the most common risk factors for suicide in psychiatric patients:
· Previous suicide attempts or threats
· Recent loss or change in personal relationships (e.g., loss of job, break-up with a partner)
· Substance abuse problems (e.g., alcohol abuse)
· Family history of mental disorders (especially depression) or substance abuse problems
· Prior hospitalization for psychiatric problems or violence against self or others
· Access to firearms or other weapons
There are several ways to prevent suicide in psychiatric patients. One way is for the patient to see a psychiatrist regularly. This allows the psychiatrist to monitor the patient's mental health and make adjustments as necessary. Another way is for the patient to be on medication that prevents suicidal thoughts and behavior. Psychiatrist can also refer their patients to therapy, which can help them cope with their problems and make positive life changes.
Many psychiatrists have found it helpful to ask patients about their thoughts regarding suicide when they first come in for treatment, so they can intervene quickly if necessary. In addition, some people may not be able to recognize when they're having suicidal thoughts or impulses themselves because they're not used to thinking about it—so asking questions like "Have you ever thought about harming yourself?" can be an important way for doctors (or anyone else) who cares about someone who might be depressed or suicidal know what's going on inside their heads without having to wait until there's an emergency which could lead to irreparable damage being done before anything gets done.
So how do you prevent suicide? Here are some tips:
1. Be alert for warning signs. If you notice that your patient is talking about death or dying, withdrawing from social interactions, or experiencing increased anxiety or depression, take action immediately.
2. Take all talk of suicide seriously, even if it seems like a joke or a threat that doesn't seem like it will be carried out. Never ignore these kinds of statements!
3. Keep medications under lock and key so no one can take them without permission from the prescriber.
4. Make sure your patient has access to a crisis hotline number so they can call someone immediately if they start feeling suicidal thoughts again (or if those thoughts come back). This can be helpful for individuals who are trying to cope with feelings of depression or anxiety without being able to speak with anyone face-to-face about them yet.
Our psychiatrists specialize in various mental health issues, including Suicidal Thoughts, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia. We also offer counseling services for children, adolescents, and adults with A.D.H.D. or learning disorders. For more information about Mental Health Conditions. Visit our Mental Health Library page. Contact us at (800) 457-4573 or [email protected] to book an Appointment.