A new study presented to a conference in Amsterdam on Sunday (30/08/15) has found that those with depression who also display risky behaviour, agitation and impulsivity are 50% more likely to commit suicide.
BBC News reports that research by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) concluded that patterns of behaviour exist before many suicide attempts, which could act as warning signs.
The ECNP study involved a group of 2,811 patients diagnosed with depression, out of which 628 had previously attempted suicide.
Researchers were looking for “the characteristics and behaviours of those who had attempted suicide” among the study cohort.
They found that “certain patterns recur” before suicide attempts, including risky behaviour, such as reckless driving or promiscuous behaviour; psychomotor agitation, such as pacing around rooms or wringing their hands; and impulsivity – defined by the researchers as acting with “little or no forethought, reflection, or consideration of the consequences” of actions.
The team say effective preventative measures are needed urgently to prevent suicides.
Dr Dina Popovic – one author of the report – said:
"We found that 'depressive mixed states' often preceded suicide attempts.
"A depressive mixed state is where a patient is depressed – but also has symptoms of 'excitation', or mania."
Chief executive of mental health charity Mind, Paul Farmer, said that 6,000 UK people a year take their own lives and “we don't know enough about why that happens”.
Mr Farmer added that the ENCP research had an “important message” about the “indicators that people should look out for” if they are worried about a friend, partner or family member with depression.
He said that indicators for suicide might be people being “very withdrawn” or “very anxious”.
The World Health Organization said that in 2012, there were more than 800,000 suicides globally.
Leading barrister Mike Mansfield QC lost his own daughter Anna when she took her own life earlier in 2015.
Mr Mansfield said that her suicide came “out of the blue”, as she had two children and a successful career and no one suspected she was at risk of suicide.
Commenting on the ECNP research, Mr Mansfield said:
“We want to know more – we want somebody to correlate all this and make sense of what seems like a senseless situation.
“So, I would welcome anybody who's spent the time and bothered to assemble the pattern of behaviour – because in Anna's case, there was a pattern of behaviour and I for one didn't really spot it.”
Duncan Lewis Mental Health Solicitors
Duncan Lewis can advise NHS mental health patients on access to services and their rights under the Mental Health Act.
Duncan Lewis mental health solicitors are the largest provider of Legal Aid mental health services in the UK – and are available at short notice for appointments at hospitals and police stations nationwide.
In some cases, Duncan Lewis may be able to advise the nearest relative or carer of a mental health patient on issues such as initiating treatment reviews where appropriate, or access to NHS mental health services.
For expert legal advice on mental health law, call the Duncan Lewis Mental Health Solicitors Helpline on 0203 114 1124.