Suicide information and prevention
November 2 2016

Suicide is the act of intentionally taking one’s own life. Suicide occurs for a number of reasons such as depression, substance abuse, romantic breakup, shame, avoiding pain, financial difficulties or other undesirable fates.

Foreclosures of homes Tied to Higher Suicide Risk in Study.

Medications as cause
Sedatives and sleeping pills prescribed to ease depression, anxiety and sleep problems increase the risk among the elderly. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, sedatives and hypnotics make it more likely an older person would commit suicide. Drugs somehow trigger aggressive or impulsive behavior or provide the means for people to take an overdose. Disabilities or sleep problems may make people more likely to commit suicide. People under age 25 who take antidepressants have a higher risk, but adults older than that do not.

Suicide inquiry at the doctor’s office
Primary care physicians do not consistently ask their depressed patients. Exploration of suicide is more common when a patient portrays major depression versus adjustment disorder and when they ask for an antidepressant medication versus not making such a request.

Role of excess sunlight and long day hours
Too much sunlight in places like Greenland where long summer days often cause insomnia appears more likely to drive a person to suicide. “During the long periods of constant light, it is crucial to keep some circadian rhythm to get enough sleep and sustain mental health,” says Karin Sparring Bjorksten of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Despite a belief that suicides tend to rise in late autumn and early winter months because of darkness, places where constant sunlight in summer seasons is a fact of life may be just as dangerous. Karin Sparring Bjorksten studied the seasonal variation of suicides in all of Greenland from 1968 to 2002 and found a cluster of suicides in the summer months. This seasonal effect was especially pronounced in the north of the country — an area where the sun doesn’t set between the end of April and the end of August. “In the north of the country, 82 percent of the suicides occurred during the daylight months.” Most of the suicides involved young men and were violent — such as shooting, hanging and jumping from high places. These kinds of deaths accounted for nearly all, about 95 percent, of the suicides.

Teenagers and youth
Kids aged 11 to 17 are more likely to attempt suicide if their families move three or more times compared to those who never move. Those raised in abusive families or where father figures are absent are more likely to start fights. Adults who were in good physical shape at age 18 are less likely to commit suicide than those who were less fit when they were younger.

Q. You may be interested in a 30-minute mental health / depression / suicide prevention educational DVD. The DVD was produced by my son, a student who captured his true-life battle with depression and suicide. It includes a short film made while unaware he was clinically depressed followed by a speech to his school after receiving treatment (discussing his experience with depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, self-injury, self-medicating substance abuse, and his treatment). The film has been selected in over 60 national film festivals winning 24 awards, was profiled in a film honoring cognitive psychologist Dr. Aaron Beck, profiled on the MetroBeat Student Voices television network and profiled on the Voice America Health channel. The DVD is being distributed for school curriculums, psychologists, social workers, substance abuse and suicide prevention organizations, libraries, counselors, etc. The DVD (titled “Eternal High,” produced by Bryce Mackie) is distributed by Aquarius Health Care Media (888-440-2963).

Q. My 23 yr old son died from suicide. He had been in China only 1 week for a 2 month working holiday (it was his 3rd visit to Beijing). His sister was there to watch over him and also she loved being with him. But on that day she didn’t go snowboarding with him because she was tired and he said he was ok (she would have looked it and he didn’t like putting people “out”) – and he was at the time. Less then 3 hours later he died after jumping from a tall building. He was the love of my life – of all our lives. I and many others failed him – but no one more then me. I was his advocate and his rock, I was guiding him. Please read an account of his last year. He had only the odd episode (1 -2 times a year) of short lived depression prior to 2006. It never required treatment or investigation – just support from me usually long distance because he travelled alot overseas.
Brian’s depressive illness was short lived and his battle had only just begun. He had been having recurring bouts of severe depression that lasted 3 to 7 days on average for the best part of 2006.These episodes came as quickly as they left. The depression was never longer then 2 weeks apart from the first time he sought help which came in the form of Prozac (fluoxitine). This resulted in worsening of his depression and increased anxiety so after 2 weeks (despite his GPs advice to keep on it) I told him to stop taking it and 2 days later he made his first known plan to suicide (he place the barrel of an unloaded shotgun in his mouth). At that time (June) the local mental health team were called and assessed him over the phone. They decided he was safe at home with us and made an appointment for him to see a psychiatrist. Two days later he was his normal positive self albeit a little anxious he might be struck with ‘it’ again. The psychiatrist said he had severe clinical depression and gave him a prescription for another SSRI, Aropax. This scribt was filled but not taken as Brian and I both felt that if he was well, why should he take it and he was also very nervous of it having a similar affect as Prozac had.
He had a follow up appointment with a different psychiatrist in our local rural health centre a fortnight after the first consultation. This doctor agreed with Tim that he didn’t need to take any medication and advised us if we had any more concerns to contact the mental health team. I had taken a graph which represented Brain’s moods to show to the doctor but sadly he didn’t want to look at it – I should have made him look at it but I am not a forthright person so I failed. Tim was also seeing a psychologist but after 3 visits it was decided their was no need to continue – Brian always minimised the tortuous depressive mood and when he was well didn’t want to think about it. The psychologist never saw the graph I had kept recording despite my request to Tim to show him. He said he forgot to take it in. After Brian died I saw the psychologis and showed him the graph. Sadly he said I wish I had seen this when Tim had seen him. He said it looked very much like a bi polar pattern and that was why Prozac affected him the way it did. I had asked Brian’s GP and his case worker about the possibility of bi polar. But they both were ambiguous and said because he had no mania or hypomania it was not.
Brian started taking fish oils and I had read about 5htp so when he next went down he started taking 50mg daily – this was on my suggestion after i had researched what I could on the Net. It was limited admittedly but there was mostly positive or at least hopeful comments and research (minimal). Within 3 days of starting the 5htp he was back to normal. There was hope – but perhaps it was coincidence. He continued to take the 5htp for another month but then lost the bottle (we were holidaying in Indonesia so didn’t try and replace it). Following discontinuation of the 5 htp he was good for 3 months – aside from a couple of minor downs that lasted 2 days and 5 days respectively. But then November came and he went down to the depths of despair overnight – despite this he managed to get through a days work on the fishing boat he crewed for his father. So I phoned our GP ( another failure – I should have phoned mental health service) and asked him if Brian should start taking the Aropax we still had. So he took one that night and the next day after he came in from fishing he was crying and said he felt like what it felt like on Prozac and he was anxious, despairing and tortured. Again, he made plans to die – my daughter, son and I noticed what he was doing. Checking out how to hang yourself, getting all his headache pills out of the cupboard. So I said to Brian OK, what about trying the 5htp – it seemed to work last time though we weren’t sure of course. This is where I failed the most – why I didn’t pick up the phone and call the mental health service is a mystery and a torment to me. So he started taking 5htp (50mg daily) and within 3 days he was back to normal. He was booked to go to China in less then a month. What a relief – but so ignorant.
What I did notice was that both times he started the 5htp he roller coasted badly – that is his mood would start to lift and then it would plummet and this would happen 2 to 4 times in a day for 2 or 3 days then he’d be fine – back to thoughtful, clever, positive and witty Brian. I don’t recall the rollercoaster being so extreme when he didn’t take 5htp.
When he got to China he was starting to go down and by the 5th day he was up and down. So his sister and girlfriend were keeping him close – even making him go to there work places. The day before he died he increased his dose to 50mg twice a day – which I suggested. This tortures me – I wonder if that made him rollercoaster even more which led him to his death. I know in my heart and mind Brian didn’t want to die – he wanted to get better. He loved life passionately. Please tell me honestly of your knowledge about that effect (the rollercoastering) – that is just another torment I have to live with. In your experience does 5htp cause those swings – initially at least ?
A. We have not heard of rollercoastering occurring with 5-HTP, this has not been reported to us, but in someone who has a very labile mood, this may potentially occur whether a person is taking 5-HTP or a pharmaceutical medicine. There are countless cases of depressed individuals who take their lives even when observed and monitored by mental health professionals and even when placed on potent prescription antidepressants (this happens every day countless times). Sometimes events occur that are out of our control, no matter how much we wish we could prevent something bad from happening. We think your son would rather have you cherish and remember the wonderful times you shared with him than to feel guilty.

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