Fact: 9.5 million adults have serious thoughts of suicide

Research Roundup | DATAPOINT of the Month

Suicide is a major public health concern in the United States and individuals with serious mental illness are disproportionately affected. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 9.5 million adults have serious thoughts of suicide in any given year, 2.7 million make a suicide plan and 1.3 million attempt suicide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 44,000 deaths in 2015 were a result of a suicide.

RESEARCH of the Month

Increased mortality in individuals with serious mental illness is in part due to delays in seeking medical care

Individuals with serious mental illness have a 25-year shorter life expectancy than those in the general population and new research suggests this is in part due to delays in seeking medical care. In a recently published Psychiatric Services report, individuals with psychotic or severe mood disorders were surveyed on their recent physical medical appointments and reasons for not seeking such care, such as attitudes, beliefs or financial barriers. Individuals who delayed seeking medical care were two times as likely to have abnormal blood pressure measurements and three times more likely to have abnormal measures for diabetes than for patients with serious mental illness who did not delay their medical care, according to the results. The findings suggest that physicians understand barriers to seeking care for individuals with serious mental illness to improve access for these individuals.

Spivak, S. (2018, April). "Delays in seeking general medical services and measurable abnormalities among individuals with serious mental illness." Psychiatric Services.

Social skills training to reduce negative symptoms in schizophrenia

Social skills training is effective in reducing negative symptoms for patients with schizophrenia, according to a new meta-analysis published in Schizophrenia Bulletin. Researchers analyzed 27 randomized control trials of 1,437 participants with schizophrenia comparing the use of social skills training to treatment-as-usual in the reduction of negative symptoms in schizophrenia, including apathy, loss of motivation, and inattention to social inputs, among others. The results indicate that social skills training may have similar effects to cognitive behavioral therapy in reducing negative symptoms and has a strong potential for wider implementation in outpatient mental health care.

Turner, D. T. (2018, April). "A meta-analysis of social skills training and related interventions for psychosis." Schizophrenia Bulletin.

Early intervention in schizophrenia treatment has long term effects to reduce suicide

Early intervention not only improves short-term outcomes for individuals with first-episode psychosis but also reduces risk for suicide for the long-term, new research suggests. Historical data was analyzed for 1,234 patients with first-episode psychosis who received early intervention services for up to 12 years, including number of suicide attempts, treatment adherence, symptom relapse and others. The authors report that early intervention is associated with a reduction in the suicide rate among patients in the vulnerable early stage of disease as well as in the long-term, providing further evidence to the benefit of early treatment in psychosis.

Chan, S. K. W. (2018, April). "Association of an early intervention service for psychosis with suicide rate among patients with first-episode schizophrenia-spectrum disorders." JAMA Psychiatry. 

Elizabeth Sinclair

Director of Research

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Research Weekly is a summary published as a public service of the Treatment Advocacy Center and does not necessarily reflect the findings or positions of the organization or its staff. Full access to research summarized may require a fee or paid subscription to the publications.

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