Author: National Institute of Mental Health

Suicide in the U.S.: Statistics and Prevention

A fact sheet of statistics on suicide with information on treatments and suicide prevention. suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. In 2007, it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 34,598 deaths.1 The overall rate was 11.3 suicide deaths per 100,000 people.1 An estimated 11 attempted suicides occur per every suicide death.1 suicidal behavior is complex. Some risk factors vary with age, gender, or ethnic group and may occur in combination or change over time. What are the risk factors for suicide? research shows that risk factors for suicide include: depression and...

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In Harm’s Way: Suicide in America

Suicide is a tragic and potentially preventable public health problem. In 1997, suicide was the 8th leading cause of death in the U.S.1 Specifically, 10.6 out of every 100,000 persons died by suicide. The total number of suicides was approximately 31,000, or 1.3 percent of all deaths. Approximately 500,000 people received emergency room treatment as a result of attempted suicide in 1996.2 Taken together, the numbers of suicide deaths and attempts show the need for carefully designed prevention efforts. [su_note note_color=”#ff0000″ text_color=”#ffffff” radius=”10″] National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 [/su_note]suicidal behavior is complex. Some risk factors vary with age, gender and ethnic group and may even change over time. The risk factors for suicide frequently occur in combination. research has shown that more than 90 percent of people who kill themselves have depression or another diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorder.3 In addition, research indicates that alterations in neurotransmitters such as serotonin are associated with the risk for suicide.4 Diminished levels of this brain chemical have been found in patients with depression, impulsive disorders, a history of violent suicide attempts, and also in postmortem brains of suicide victims. Adverse life events in combination with other risk factors such as depression may lead to suicide. However, suicide and suicidal behavior are not normal responses to stress. Many people have one or more risk factors and are not suicidal. Other risk factors include:...

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Step on a Crack… Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), an anxiety disorder, suffer intensely from recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions) that they feel they cannot control. Repetitive behaviors such as handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called “rituals,” however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety. Left untreated, obsessions and the need to carry out rituals can take over a person’s life. OCD is often a chronic, relapsing illness. Fortunately, research—including studies supported by NIMH—has led to the development of...

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How Biological Clocks Work

Anyone who has traveled has experienced jet lag — that groggy realization that while your day is beginning in Washington, DC, the night you just left in San Francisco is hardly over. Jet lag is an inconvenient reminder that the body is set to a 24-hour clock, known by scientists as circadian rhythms, from the Latin circa dies, “about one day.” An internal biological clock is fundamental to all living organisms, influencing hormones that play a role in sleep and wakefulness, metabolic rate, and body temperature. Disruption of circadian rhythms not only affects sleep patterns but also has been found to precipitate mania in people with bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness).1 Other types of illnesses also are affected by circadian rhythms; for example, heart attacks occur more frequently in the morning while asthma attacks occur more often at night.2,3 Although biological clocks have been the focus of intensive research over the past four decades, only recently have the tools needed to examine the molecular basis of circadian rhythms become available. Early studies pointed to an area of the brain, the hypothalamus, as the location of the circadian pacemaker in mammals.4 More recent findings show proteins called cryptochromes, located throughout the body, are also involved in detecting changes in light and setting the body’s clock.5 Genes that code for the clock protein, PER, glow in the head and other body parts...

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Bipolar Disorder

bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But there is good news: bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives. More than 2 million American adults,1 or about 1 percent of the population age 18 and older in any given year,2 have...

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