In 2018, suicide was the ninth leading cause of death in Florida and tenth in the U.S. About 30 percent of those who committed suicide displayed symptoms of depression at least three months before death.
A new study presented at the 28th European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) Congress in Amsterdam discovered behavior patterns such as risky behavior, agitation and impulsivity to be significant indicators of 50 percent of suicide attempts.
The study analyzed 2,811 individuals with depression who were a part of an international study of depression and suicide. Several parameters were studied that included previous suicide attempts, family history, current and previous treatments and the patient's clinical presentations. Psychiatric symptoms and clinical risk factors for bipolar disorder were also assessed. Of the participants, 628 had already attempted suicide.
"The strength of this study is that it's not a clinical trial, with ideal patients - it's a big study, from the real world," said study author Dr. Dina Popovic, a psychiatrist at Barcelona Hospital Clinic and the Clinical Research Institute of Biomedical Research in Spain.
The researchers found "depressive mixed states" often preceded suicide attempts and was quite relative to bipolarity.
"A 'depressive mixed state' is where a patient is depressed, but also has symptoms of 'excitation,' or mania. We found this significantly more in patients who had previously attempted suicide, than those who had not. In fact, 40 percent of all the depressed patients who attempted suicide had a 'mixed episode' rather than just depression."
Dr. Popovic added, "In our opinion, assessing these symptoms in every depressed patient we see is extremely important, and has immense therapeutic implications. Most of these symptoms will not be spontaneously referred by the patient, the clinician needs to inquire directly, and many clinicians may not be aware of the importance of looking at these symptoms before deciding to treat depressed patients."
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Among American men, the suicide rate is about four times higher than among women.
Florida’s percentage of adults with suicidal thoughts was similar to the national percentage in 2012 to 2018. According to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, in Florida, about 493 ,000 adults (3.4 percent of all adults) in 2009 through 2018 had serious thoughts of suicide within the year prior to being surveyed. The percentage did not change significantly over this period.