The shocking truth about suicide

The shocking truth about suicide

A new study has uncovered a lot of important facts about suicide ... including some things you may not realize.

A new study has come to a concerning but important conclusion: that a suicide attempt is actually a much stronger predictor of a completed suicide than we had previously thought. It’s a major finding that actually contradicts previous findings, as earlier studies had come to the counterintuitive conclusion that perhaps other factors were a better indicator of a possible lethal suicide in the future.

The researchers found that the suicide risk was nearly 60 percent higher than previously reported based on data focused on those who made their first ever suicide attempts and including those who ended up dead rather than in the emergency room, according to a Mayo Clinic statement.

The study found that most survivors — the vast majority, even — killed themselves within a year of their first attempt, and this held true regardless of which gender.

J. Michael Bostwick, a psychiatrist with mayo Clinic and the lead author of the study, which was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, said he sought to “address the shortcomings” of prior studies. This study examined those not only who survived their first lifetime suicide attempt, but also those who ended up dead on their first try.

It’s an important topic because suicide is in the top 10 in most common causes of death in the United States. About 60 percent of people die on the first attempt.

Firearms are the most common item used in a suicide, and nearly three quarters of all deaths were caused with firearms. Men were more likely than women to commit suicide at a 1.7 to 1 ratio. The elderly were also more likely to kill themselves, with one third of men over the age of 65 committing suicide in the study.

“We hoped to address the shortcomings of earlier studies by including two groups previously overlooked by other studies,” says J. Michael Bostwick, M.D., a psychiatrist on Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus and the lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. “Our study enrolled individuals whose first-ever suicide attempt presented to medical attention. Not only did we include those who survived this initial attempt, but we also included those who died on their first attempt and ended up on the coroner’s slab rather than in the emergency room. These are large groups that have been routinely ignored in calculation of risk.”

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