Young people and suicide attempt: A signal for long term healthcare and social needs.

Wednesday 4th December 2013

A recent paper from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study team lead by Dr. Sidra Goldman-Mellor showed that 8.8% of Study participants had attempted suicide by the age of 24. These young New Zealanders came of age at a time when their country suffered a severe economic recession, with rising youth unemployment and youth suicide.

This study looked at the future life outcomes of these of these young suicide attempters when followed up to late thirties and found that compared to their peers, they were at increased risk for a variety of poor life outcomes. For example, they were more likely to be hospitalised for a psychiatric problem, have developed metabolic syndrome (which leads to cardiovascular disease and diabetes), have higher rates of systemic inflammation (a risk factor for heart disease), to be convicted for a violent crime, relied on government benefits longer and reported in their late thirties that they felt lonely and dissatisfied with life. Many suicide attempters had a psychiatric disorder before their attempt, but the suicide attempt was a signal for poor long-term outcomes over and above knowing any mental health diagnosis they had. It is important not to assume that attempting suicide is what caused the worse outcomes in adulthood. Instead, the study shows that a suicide attempt is a powerful signal for increased treatment need. Targeting services towards young people who have already attempted suicide may help alleviate future suffering and reduce risk among suicide attempters, their families and their communities.

Goldman-Mellor, S., Caspi, A., Harrington, H. L., Hogan, S., Nada-Raja, S., Poulton, R., & Moffitt, T. E. | 2014

Suicide attempt in young people: A signal for long-term healthcare and social needs 

JAMA Psychiatry,   2014, Vol. 71(2), 119-127.