Tag: mental health

Is Suicide Contagious?

Parents Who Attempt Suicide May Pass it On to Children

children of suicide

According to a new study from the University of Pittsburg, children of parents who’ve attempted suicide are nearly five times as likely to attempt suicide themselves.

Any factor that makes someone almost five times as likely to attempt to kill themselves is serious business. Equally alarming is the fact that researchers aren’t quite sure why a parent’s suicide attempt makes children more likely to try themselves. They’ve developed some theories, but have yet to come to a definitive conclusion.

The study, published in late 2014 in the JAMA journal Psychiatry, is an attempt by scientists to learn how suicide is transmitted through families.

How is talk therapy changing suicide prevention?

 

New Statistics on Suicide

The study examined over 700 children (with ages ranging from ten to fifty years old) of 334 parents with mood disorders. Of the 334 parents, 191 (roughly 57%) had attempted suicide before. On average, researchers examined the children for over five years.

Researchers found that, prior to the study, just over 6% of the children had attempted suicide before. During the five years of research, another 4% attempted suicide.

Episodes of depression also increased during the course of the study. During the first two years, almost 30% of the children reported experiencing depression. By the end of five years that number rose to just over 48%.

The question that’s on my mind is why? Why are children of suicidal parents more likely to attempt to kill themselves? Why are children of suicidal parents more likely to experience depression?

New Theories on Suicide

Part of the reason for the above numbers is surely environmental. If either of my parents attempted suicide, I imagine I’d be prone to depression. If this depression was left unchecked, it’s not a stretch to imagine suicide looking like a viable option.

What else, though? Surely that can’t be the sole contributing factor to why suicide seems to run in families.

It’s not. Researchers found that mood disorders elevated suicidal ideations and the risk of a suicide attempt. They also found that impulse aggression played a large role. Interestingly enough, they found that “child maltreatment” did not play a role in familial suicide attempts.

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Suicide Prevention

What does this new information mean for preventing suicides? Or, to put it another way, how can these statistics and theories be used to save lives?

family suicide

Well, they suggest that not only is genetic and family history important, but in fact it’s vital to preventing suicide attempts. Think about it, if someone has a family history of clinical depression, with or without suicide attempts, that person is significantly more at risk for attempting suicide.

Likewise, if a family has a history of say Borderline Personality Disorder, all members of that family should undergo psychiatric evaluation. While this may sound a bit extreme, it absolutely isn’t. These evaluations may be able to not only uncover suicide risk factors for the family, but also aid ongoing suicide research.

This type of proactive research is how suicide should be treated. Rather than waiting for someone to attempt to kill themselves and going back through their family’s psychiatric history, let’s take a preemptive approach.

It’s through this hands on approach that we’ll be able to see a real impact made on reducing suicide and suicide attempts.

Learn how addiction impacts the entire family

The End of Rehab?

The End of Rehab or the Start of a New Chapter?

As 2014 fades into the history books and 2015 looms right around the corner, we’re poised to see some major changes occurring in healthcare.

obamacare and rehab

Since its inception in 2008, The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has shaken up the world of medicine. From its promise to insure every American to its promise of affordable copays and deductibles, the ACA has some big shoes to fill.

So far, with the exception of the temperamental Healthcare.gov website, Obamacare has done pretty well. It got rid of preexisting conditions. It expanded Medicaid coverage. Between 2013 and 2014, it’s estimated that 3.8 million people received health insurance thanks to the ACA. Estimate or not, that’s nothing to scoff at.

Okay, the Affordable Care Act has, generally speaking, brought positive change. What about addiction medicine, though? How does that factor into President Obama’s insurance overhaul? More importantly, why are some people proclaiming the end of rehab as we know it?

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How Obamacare Already Changed Rehab

In the brief two years it’s been around, Obamacare has already brought some major changes to addiction treatment. First and foremost, it got rid of preexisting conditions. This means that insurance companies can’t deny people coverage based on any illness they already have.

Today, substance use disorders are considered one of the ten elements of “essential health benefits.” Score one for addicts and alcoholics across the country!

Next, the ACA expanded parity rules. These are the rules governing how insurance companies cover mental illness and addiction treatment. This expansion took the form of the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

This law evened the playing field for addicts, alcoholics, and those with mental illness. Prior to this, deductibles, copays, and annual visits to treatment centers were held to a different standard than non-addiction medicine. After the law was passed, both the financial and treatment components of addiction medicine must be equal to any type of non-addiction medicine.

According to a 2013 estimate by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, this expansion of parity rules will increase mental health and substance abuse benefits for as many as 31 million people. That’s a lot of people!

It’s plain to see that the ACA has already brought some significant change to how addiction is treated in America, but what does the future hold for Obamacare and rehab?

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How Obamacare May Change Rehab

Here’s where things start to get controversial. This is also when we leave the world of concrete facts and venture into educated guesses.

Now that substance use disorders fall into the category of essential health benefits, some sources suggest that rehabs will change how they operate. Kevin Kunz, the Vice President of the American Board of Addiction Medicine, is quoted as saying,

“We could put a ‘rehab’ center on every corner in America and it would not treat this problem…What will change it is the integration across health care of the knowledge this is an expensive in all ways, preventable and treatable illness” (from the KCRW site).

This “integration across health care” may take the form of treatment centers moving from spiritual and twelve-step modalities to a cut and dry scientific approach. It’s also thought that treatment will shift from specialty facilities to individual’s primary care doctors.

affordable care act and rehab

What’s cotton fever?

While there’s nothing wrong with incorporating science and spirituality, it’s sure to ruffle some feathers. After all, a spiritual and twelve-step approach offers some significant benefits. Consider that Alcoholics Anonymous has helped millions of men and women recover from addiction and alcoholism. Consider they boast a membership that’s upwards of two million people.

Now, what about the shift away from treatment centers in favor of primary care physicians? There’s nothing wrong with this on paper. In fact, it appears to offer some benefits. Primary care doctors know their patients, their patient’s family, and their patient’s history. They should be able to offer more insight than a doctor who knows nothing about a particular patient.

Sounds good…in theory. In practice, these general care doctors may not know enough about addiction to offer meaningful care. They haven’t been trained in addiction or mental health medicine. This could lead to things like overprescribing potentially dangerous medications (think Suboxone and the like) and misdiagnosing mental illness.

After all, what good is having access to addiction treatment if the treatment itself stinks?

Learn these 7 sober life hacks!

Is Therapy Changing Suicide Treatment?

Therapy & Suicide: The New Facts

suicide and addiction

The findings of an eighteen-year, multinational study show that therapy reduces suicide rates. Okay, that sounds about right. I mean, that’s nothing we didn’t already know, right?

Wrong. Researchers from John Hopkins found that talk therapy reduced suicide attempts by 26%. That’s over one-fourth. That’s a pretty impressive number.

The study found that, at the five-year mark, participants in the therapy group attempted suicide 26% less than those in the non-therapy group. Take a minute to think about that. That’s real progress.

Also impressive were the ten-year statistics. Suicide rates were 229 out of 100,000 individuals from the therapy group. Again, that’s an impressive number.

What’s the link between shame, addiction, and suicide?

The Staggering Statistics on Suicide

If depression is “the silent killer,” then suicide is the silent assassin. Consider the following statistics:

  • Suicide kills approximately 800,000 people each year
  • Someone dies of suicide every thirteen minutes
  • Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death worldwide
  • Almost 40,000 Americans die each year as a result of suicide
  • For people aged fifteen to twenty-four, suicide is the second leading cause of death

All statistics are taken from SAVE.

It’s clear that suicide presents a major public health concern. In fact, I’d argue that it’s as big of a public health concern as anything else.

Look at how worked up the public recently became over Ebola. Suicide kills exponentially more people than Ebola, yet gets much less media attention. Why is that?

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Barriers to Suicide Treatment

If talk therapy can lower suicide rates by 26%, the question then becomes how to provide access to those who need therapy most. In other words, how can we get someone who’s depressed into therapy?

That’s the hard part. The difficulty is only compounded when you consider that addiction is also a precursor to many suicides. So, how can we offer therapy to those who are unwilling to participate? How can we, as mental health professional, help those who so desperately need our help?

Perhaps the answer lies in integrating suicide prevention into substance abuse treatment. Perhaps the answer is increased education about suicide in schools. I don’t know. I do know something needs to be done and starting a dialogue about suicide is the beginning of affecting real change.

Are you or a loved one struggling with substance abuse or mental illness? Let us help you. Contact Lighthouse Recovery Institute today!

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