World Bipolar Day: Bipolar people at greater risk of suicide after initial self-harm

World Bipolar Day: Bipolar people at greater risk of suicide after initial self-harm

There are times when a person experiences alternate phases of exhilaration and sadness. This may appear as normal mood fluctuations, but psychologists describe it as a kind of manic depressive illness which prevents a person from carrying out daily tasks.

Understood as a form of disabling mental health condition, bipolar disorder is an illness of the brain that often results in uncommon shifts in mood, energy and the aptness to carry out activities on a day-to-day basis. People afflicted with the disorder exhibit dire symptoms, which are altogether different from the normal highs and lows one experiences. The impact of bipolar disorder can be severe with some even contemplating suicide or thinking of ways to harm themselves.

To educate people about the symptoms and prevalence of bipolar disorder and eliminate the stigma associated with it, every year March 30 is observed as the World Bipolar Day.

Suicidal tendency in bipolar patients

A new study by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden revealed that those afflicted with bipolar disorder or psychosis are approximately six times more likely to commit suicide after they had already harmed themselves intentionally.

In the study, titled “Suicide risk after nonfatal self-harm: A national cohort study, 2000-2008,” scientists observed that hanging oneself in a bid to cause injury to oneself was the biggest determinant for later instances of intentionally taking one’s own life.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in August 2015, aimed to study the short-term likelihood of a person committing suicide after inflicting harm on oneself (even if it’s non-fatal in nature), and to understand its link with co-occurring disorders along with the technique for self-harm adopted.

Study details

The scientists looked at records of 34,219 Swedish individuals aged 10 and older who had been admitted to some hospital on account of harming oneself consciously between 2000 and 2005. Of the participants, 59 percent were female. Though the diagnosis code ICD-10 did not allow any scope for differentiating between self-harm and attempt to commit suicide, scientists found that 75 percent of the individuals being observed had consumed poison.

The details of these individuals were studied for a minimum period of three years, extending to nine years. It was found that an estimated 3.5 percent of the individuals under study had committed suicide. During the follow-up study, it was found that men who had initially attempted suicide by hanging were 5.3 times more likely to take their own lives. The figure for women was 4.5 times.

It was also observed that among those with no history of mental illnesses, 2 percent men and 0.9 percent women committed suicide. After the scientists had taken into account various details like age, nationality and the level of parents’ education, it was found that men aggrieved with bipolar disorder were 6.3 times more likely to commit suicide when compared with those who were never diagnosed with the disorder.

Their chance of committing suicide had doubled to 12.9 times if they had made use of any self-injury method other than poisoning. Women suffering from bipolar disorder were 5.8 times more likely to commit suicide with the probability of committing suicide increasing to 15.8 times in cases where non-poisoning self-harm methods were adopted before. Among these women who had hurt themselves with methods other than poisoning, 20 percent had committed suicide during the follow-up period.

The findings also pointed out that women with non-organic psychotic disorders had 4.6 times more chance of committing suicide, while suicide risk among men with psychosis heightening to 5.1 times as opposed to those who were not diagnosed with the disorder.

Among those individuals suffering from psychosis but had not caused harm to themselves using poison, 15.6 percent had ended their lives during the follow-up phase. A similar figure of approximately 13.9 percent of those depressed, but had deliberately injured themselves with methods other than poisoning had committed suicide.

Looking at the observations made during the study, the researchers concluded that after bipolar disorder and non-organic psychotic disorder, the incessant feeling of gloom and characteristic of depression predicted heightened possibilities of suicide within the consecutive nine years.

The conclusions obtained were analogous to the results obtained during previous researches, which inferred that self-harming methods other than poisoning resulted in greater chance of suicide than poisoning. “The risk of suicide is particularly pronounced during the first years after previous nonfatal self-harm in individuals with coexisting severe mental disorders,” the researchers observed.

Lending a helping hand

The findings of the study are important in the light of the fact that bipolar disorder affects nearly 5.7 million adult Americans in any given year, as per the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

The prevalence of this disorder has coerced medical practitioners and psychologists to look deeply into the factors that aggravate the chance of the disease and to find a combination of innovative treatment options to combat its effect. If you or your loved one is battling any mental illness, the Sovereign Mental Health Services is there to help. We offer the best treatment for bipolar disorder and dual diagnosis, and addictions. Call today at our 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529 for further information.

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