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Depression is Risky?

Depression is Risky?
Bipolar youth have certain risk factors that can help predict suicide attempts
Most children with bipolar disorder will not attempt suicide, but the ones who do have a few things in common. Noticing these common risk factors can help prevent suicide attempts.

A recent study followed a group of bipolar I & II children and discovered that more serious depressive episodes and having a family history of depression were the most common predictors of suicide attempts.

Tina Goldstein, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, interviewed 413 children aged 9-16 with bipolar disorder every nine months over the course of five years.

Results of the study showed that 18 percent of the group made a least one attempt at suicide over the five-year study. Of that subgroup 41 percent made more than one attempt. Those who attempted more than once were 8 percent of the overall group.

Severity of depressive episodes and family history of depression were significant predictors of suicide attempts. Other predictors included the length of time spent in a depressive state, substance use disorder and mixed mood symptoms.

Girls showed a higher likelihood to attempt suicide than boys did. Another risk factor was the number of weeks spent doing outpatient psychosocial service sessions.

The study noted that bipolar disorder patients have one of the highest suicide rates of all psychiatric disorders. Adults with bipolar disorder have a one in four to one in two chance of attempting suicide at least once and 8 percent to 19 percent will complete the task.

Study authors said, “Factors such as intake depressive severity and family history of depression should be considered in the assessment of suicide risk among youth with bipolar disorder. Persistent depression, mixed presentations, and active substance use disorder signal imminent risk for suicidal behavior in this population.”

This study was published in the July issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. Funding for the research was provided by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, no conflicts of interest were found.

Suicide Prevention 
Over 36,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year, making it the country's 10th leading cause of death. More frighteningly, over one million people every year attempt suicide. While women are three times more likely to attempt suicide, men are over five times more likely to die from suicide. People aged 45-54 are the group that most often dies from suicide.

Nine out of every ten people who commit suicide will have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric illness at the time of their death, such as bipolar disorder, major depression, or schizophrenia. Other risk factors include abuse of drugs or alcohol (especially when combined with depression), post-traumatic stress disorder, bulimia/anorexia, and personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. People who have previously tried and failed to commit suicide are also at greater risk for a second successful attempt.

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