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New research shows that suicide and self-harm risk nearly triple in people suffering from restless leg syndrome

Texas suicide lawyer

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) — also known as Willis Ekbom Disease — is classified as a sensorimotor disorder that causes those affected to have an unstoppable urge to move their legs. It’s often caused by end-stage renal disease and hemodialysis, as well as iron deficiency, medication side effects, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, pregnancy, and nerve damage.

For those who suffer from RLS, moving their legs is a way to ease pain and discomfort in the lower extremities. Symptoms of RLS often flair up in the late afternoon, evening, or at night when someone is trying to sleep. In turn, people with RLS often don’t receive adequate sleep — resulting in mood changes and inability to concentrate.

Researchers find a connection between RLS and death by suicide

According to a study conducted by researchers at Penn State, there may be a link between RLS and suicide risks. The connection between RLS and suicide is currently unclear but RLS often accompanies sleep deprivation, depression, heart disease, ADHD, obesity, and overall poor quality of life.

The Penn State study involved approximately 169,373 participants (both with and without RLS) across the United States and found that those with RLS are at a 2.7-fold greater risk of death by suicide or self-harm than those without the condition. None of the participants in the study had prior cases of attempted suicide or self-harm. Throughout the study, however, approximately 119 cases of death by suicide or self-harm were identified during a mean follow-up of 5.2 years.

While research scrutinizing sleep disorders is limited, researchers believe that sleep disturbance, insomnia, and obstructive sleep apnea may elevate suicide risks in people with RLS. Depression, however, was ruled out as a suicide risk factor.

Finding a solution to RLS-related suicide may require further research

Death by suicide has risen by 30 percent since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, nearly 45,000 people in the U.S. died by suicide in 2016. These statistics are alarming. In a time when death by suicide is at an all-time high, studies such as the one conducted by researchers at Penn State help shed light on the possible risk factors we should be addressing.

About five percent of the population in Western countries is impacted by RLS. The condition can be debilitating for those who suffer from it. In the meantime, pinpointing the central cause of death by suicide and self-harm among people with RLS will require further research. Therefore, it’s critical that doctors don’t dismiss this condition as merely a nuisance.

If you lost a loved one to death by suicide that could have been prevented, it’s crucial that you take legal action. Knowing where to start, however, can be overwhelming and confusing, especially when dealing with the death of a loved one.

Nationally-recognized suicide lawyer and counselor Skip Simpson at The Law Offices of Skip Simpson helps families of those who died by suicide seek answers and justice. If a doctor or other medical professional failed to act promptly and effectively when they should have, speak to our experienced and compassionate legal team as soon as possible.

You can contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation or call (214) 618-8222.

Brain scans may ID suicide risks linked to depression

Texas suicide lawyerEven though the majority of people with depression don’t die by suicide, statistics show that roughly 30 percent who are unaffected by multiple antidepressant drugs or therapy make at least one attempt in their lifetime.

A common misconception about depression is that it must be treated as a single condition. However, it often involves multiple ailments that can heighten the risk of suicide, according to Science Mag. Researchers are currently trying to identify several depression subtypes by comparing the neural circuits that light up during certain tasks with actual depression symptoms. These efforts are part of a larger initiative to delve deeper into brain biology and mental health.

Identifying subtypes of depression that are most often linked to suicide

While the ultimate goal is to identify suicide risks through biological means, researchers hope to develop effective strategies for care that extend far beyond conventional psychiatry. This effort includes Research on Anxiety and Depression-Anhedonia Treatment (RAD-AT), which enrolls volunteers with certain subtypes of depression that put them at a heightened risk of suicide.

The study — which is led by Leanne Williams, a Stanford clinical neuroscientist — pioneers a method of treatment based on brain circuitry. In addition, the study hopes to link symptoms of depression to brain biology in order to help those who have had no previous success with treatment.

For more than 20 years, Williams has studied how depression manifests in the brain and has worked to collect thousands of brain scans from people with depression. After losing a patient early in her career, and recently, a loved one, she has dedicated herself to preventing death by suicide in people with depression.

After extensive research, Williams has identified at least six subtypes of depression, each of which is generated by unusual activity in the brain that effects certain sets of circuits responsible for regulating mood and cognition. Three key subtypes were found to be linked to suicide risks. These include:

  • A subtype that affects a circuit called the default mode network, which creates aimless mental chatter and negative thoughts while the brain is in neutral.
  • Another subtype, also called anhedonia, affects the reward networks — causing those affected by it to feel little or no pleasure.
  • A third subtype associated with attention, planning, and impulse (called cognitive control) often doesn’t respond adequately to depression treatment.

The link between brain biology and suicide has been studied since the early 1980s, particularly by neuroscientist John Mann of Columbia University. After examining the brains donated by families of those who died by suicide, he found that levels of serotonin were significantly lower than depressed people who died in other ways.

What other research has concluded

Mann recently joined Maria Oquendo, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania, to further study the link between low serotonin levels and suicide. In a 2016 study, Mann and Oquendo compiled data from positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, which tracks serotonin levels in the brain by using radioactive labels.

The study, which included 100 participants who were depressed or suicidal, found a significant biological difference between people with low-serotonin levels and those who experience circumstantial suicidal thoughts.

Another study, which was led by neuroscientist Irina Esterlis at Yale University focused exclusively on the link between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide. The study also used PET imaging, which found that people with PTSD who experienced suicidal thoughts were deficient in the signaling molecule glutamate. Esterlis’s finding also explores the possibility of treatment with a drug called ketamine, which may help with glutamate deficiency.

Skeptics believe that there is no one way to identify depression subtypes. Some research suggests indicators of depression subtypes may be based on distinct symptoms, response to treatment, genetics, hormones, and gut bacteria.

What we do know is, suicidal thoughts often occur in people who, otherwise, live seemingly satisfying lives. For this reason, conventional psychiatry may not be effective at mitigating the risk. You can’t simply ask a person suffering from depression why they feel depressed. The biological markers in the brain simply can’t be expressed in words.

We hope that the findings from this research lead to effective measures of identifying biologically related suicide risks and administering effective treatment.

If you have lost a loved one due to death by suicide, you may be looking for answers and closure. An experienced Texas suicide lawyer at the Law Offices of Skip Simpson can help you through these difficult times. We’re dedicated to helping families seek justice. Contact us online today to schedule a free case evaluation with our legal team.

Gun Access May Be Risk Factor in Soldier Suicide Deaths

Texas suicide lawyerDeath by suicide has become a growing safety concern for American service personnel over the years. According to Military.com, approximately 321 active-duty military personnel took their lives in 2018. This included 57 Marines, 68 sailors, 58 airmen, and 138 Army soldiers.

As of 2004, the suicide death rate among American service personnel has exceeded deaths due to combat injuries.

Suicide and gun ownership, access

One study published in the online journal JAMA Network Open, scrutinized more than 100 deaths by suicide involving active-duty American service personnel and found a significant link between the ownership, access, and usage of firearms, and the risk of suicide.

Researchers in the study conducted psychological autopsies of 135 American service personnel who died by suicide during a period of 27 months while on active duty (but not deployed). In addition, they interviewed next-of-kin and supervisors regarding deceased American service personnel ownership, storage, and use of firearms.

These patterns of behavior were then weighed with those of a controlled group of American service personnel with likened demographics and assessed suicide risks, as well as a second group of American service personnel who had expressed suicide ideation during the previous year.

The study found that American service personnel who died by suicide were more likely to own loaded firearms, carry them in public, and store them in their homes.

According to researchers, determining this pattern of behavior as a suicide risk factor may require additional research. The sample size in the study was rather small, and in many cases, researchers weren’t able to interview next-of-kin (who are more likely to have knowledge of an individual’s firearm ownership and use).

This study may help piece together the behavior patterns of American service personnel who die by suicide, however. Additionally, it may serve as a positive step towards identifying suicide risks and allowing for intervention.

What can be done?

The staggering number of deaths by suicide among American service personnel has prompted the Department of Defense (DOD) to take action. The DOD plans to address these suicide risks by focusing on three key areas:

  • Data surveillance and reporting — the DOD plans to release an accurate, annual suicide data report.
  • Program evaluation — scrutiny of overall suicide outcomes including attempts and deaths, as well as help-seeking behavior, barriers to care, and cohesion.
  • Private and public collaboration — the DOD seeks to form a collaborative effort between federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, academia, and other community support groups.

With proper care, suicide can be prevented and failure to provide this care can result in tragedy. American service personnel put their lives on the line to serve their country and protect us. Our system has a duty to return service to these brave men and women and look out for them.

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, or someone you know, you may be looking for answers. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson is here to help. We offer free case evaluations to the survivors and families of American service personnel who have died by suicide. We can identify where the system failed and where intervention should have been offered.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

New Method for Predicting Suicide Ideation in Patients that have been Treated with Antidepressants

Texas suicide lawyerPredicting suicide ideation is a critical precursor to providing intervention and treatment to at-risk individuals. In patients who suffer from depression and other disorders that impact mood, antidepressants are often the standard method of treatment.

Antidepressants have the potential to make matters worse, however. In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), prompted a Black Box Warning on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that acknowledges the risks of suicidal thoughts in children, teens, and young adults.

Patients who are treated with antidepressants should be regularly screened for suicide ideation through follow-ups. The results of recent research conclude that prediction may be possible.

Identifying treatment-worsening suicide ideation

Doctors may soon be able to identify suicide ideation in patients receiving antidepressant treatment, according to a study in the Journal of Clinal Psychiatry.

The study analyzed data collected from 2007-2011 involving 237 patients ages 18-75 with major depressive disorder (MDD). Patients in the study received either 60 mg of duloxetine (an antidepressant drug) or placebo.

Researchers examined the link between treatment-worsening suicide ideation (TWSI) and clinical and biological factors.

TWSI involved a 1-point increase on the Montgomery-Asberg Despression Rating Scale (MADRS) item 10, which identifies suicidal thoughts.

The MADRS is a ten-item questionnaire used by psychiatrists to evaluate a patient’s level of depression. For example, zero points indicate that a patient is happy, whereas six points indicate that a patient is at risk of dying by suicide.

Researchers zeroed in on item 10 over the course of eight weeks while assessing suicide ideation. They then assessed overall depression severity by adding up total scores from all items found in the MADRS. In addition, they assessed anxiety severity by using the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale and a familial psychiatric history questionnaire.

When assessing from baseline, researchers used blood samples to analyze a link between or overlap of messenger RNA (mRNA) and microRNA (miRNA) – both of which are genetic codes transcribed in patients’ DNA. They were then able to create TWSI predictive models based on clinical factors, mRNA, miRNA, and combined factors.

Nearly 10 percent of patients who received duloxetine exhibited TWSI at baseline analysis, however, TWSI was not predicted in patients who received a placebo.

Urging healthcare providers to do the right thing

Signs of depression and suicide ideation aren’t always clearly exhibited. The stigma placed on individuals who are at risk of dying by suicide has enabled a culture where individuals may go to great lengths to mask their suffering. Thus, identifying suicide ideation, and even depression, may be impossible in some cases. The signs may only become apparent after a person has attempted suicide or lost his or her life.

As researchers continue to identify prediction methods, our medical system is inching closer to effective solutions that could save lives. It’s critical that doctors and other medical professionals are properly trained to identify suicide risks and proceed with proper intervention measures.

The Law Offices of Skip Simpson has been closely watching emerging medical developments and we urge hospitals and doctors to do the right thing. If you have lost a loved one to suicide because of someone else’s failure to provide intervention, contact us online to discuss your matter. We’re dedicated to representing families of mental health patients and holding negligent parties accountable.

How a brain receptor could lead to suicide prevention

Texas suicide lawyerPeople suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at a heightened risk of suicide.

According to an article by Live Science, researchers have found a link between suicidal thoughts and certain receptors on the surface of the brain cells of someone suffering from PTSD, in contrast with people without PTSD.

People with PTSD often suffer from severe anxiety, flashbacks, and uncontrollable thoughts surrounding a traumatic event. It’s primarily caused by any event that causes severe fear and stress and is most common in military combat veterans. The most common symptoms of PTSD, according to Live Science, include:

  • Re-experiencing: This includes flashbacks, reliving certain events, nightmares, frightening thoughts, sweating and increased heart rate. Re-experiencing can be triggered at any time when a person with PTSD sees or hears something that brings back memories of an event.
  • Avoidance: People with PTSD will often avoid bringing up certain things that remind them of a certain event. They may also avoid certain places, events, or situations that may put them at risk of experiencing flashbacks and uncontrollable thoughts and actions.
  • Hyperarousal: People with PTSD may be easily startled, experience chronic stress, and the feeling of being “on edge.” Unlike re-experiencing, this symptom isn’t triggered, but rather constant.

Study findings

The study was recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), a peer-reviewed multidisciplinary scientific journal. It found that the brain receptor called metabotropic glutamatergic (mGluR5) found in people with PTSD may be further examined for the development of future PTSD drug treatment. Metabotropic glutamatergic plays a functional role in several brain processes, including learning and memory, sleep, and cognitive functioning.

There are currently only two drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used for treating patients with PTSD. These drugs were initially designed to treat depression and aren’t effective for everyone with PTSD, however. Moreover, patients with PTSD often don’t benefit from the drug for weeks or months.

In the study, researchers scanned the brains of 29 PTSD patients, 29 people who suffered from depression (but didn’t have PTSD), and 29 people who had no diagnosed psychiatric disorder. Participants were asked if they had experienced any suicidal thoughts on the day of the scan. Those who had active suicidal thoughts with actual intent were excluded from the study and given immediate medical help. Those who had more passive suicidal thoughts without any intent were included in the study.

In comparison with healthy individuals without psychiatric disorder, participants with PTSD had higher levels of mGluR5 on the surface of the brain cells in five regions of the brain. Moreover, researchers found a link between the presence of mGluR5 only in people with PTSD, but not in people with depression.

Researchers are hopeful that the information found in this study will lead to effective suicide prevention for people with PTSD. Currently, drugs that directly target mGluR5 exist, but they have yet to be tested for PTSD treatment. Prior studies suggest that such drugs could cause an increase in anxiety among people with PTSD.

These study findings are a positive step for suicide prevention. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson will continue to keep an eye on these developments. We represent the families of those who have died by suicide across the United States. If you lost a loved one to death by suicide, contact us only to discuss your matter and explore your legal options.

Poor Suicide Risk Assessment Documentation Puts Patients at Risk

Texas suicide lawyer

Documenting a patient’s risk of suicide is just as important to making a diagnosis and taking care of patients as is evaluating their vital signs.

So says a group of cross-disciplinary experts who are working to keep patients safe and keep healthcare providers from being sued for medical malpractice.

Thoughtful decision-making during the patient intake process that would help categorize that patent’s risk of suicide is only one component, however. Another is the timely documentation of this risk assessment.

The group is lobbying for balanced judgments of suicide risk to be added to the skills, knowledge, attitudes and abilities of each healthcare provider, across disciplines. Increased training can help providers in making these judgments and documentation through the process can only add to overall patient care.

Why it’s important that suicide risk assessments are documented

Patient safety is the number one priority when it comes to documenting suicide risk assessments (SRAs). Adequate documentation is also conveyed to clinicians, researchers, attorneys, a jury, or judge showing that a healthcare facility provided a certain level of care. When documentation is routine and adequate, it:

  • Alerts other health care providers of the risk
  • Provides indicators of treatment progress
  • Serves as a checklist for treatment and care

As a procedure, documentation is widely recognized and endorsed across all healthcare settings.

By making SRA documentation routine, healthcare professionals may be able to identify suicide ideation and levels of risk in patients. In addition, patterns and spikes in suicidal behavior may be identified, allowing for early intervention and treatment.

In addition, SRA documentation showing that a suicide risk is identified, acknowledged, and addressed can mitigate liability in the event of a medical malpractice lawsuit.

When healthcare facilities fail to document an SRA and any care that was provided, they may be found liable in the event of a patient’s death or injury – even if they provided quality care. Lack of evidence, may suggest to a jury that healthcare providers didn’t meet an adequate standard of care.

What should SRA documentation include?

There are several areas that should be covered when documenting an SRA. Most importantly, this should include:

  • Suicide risk factors
  • Suicide ideations
  • Plans and intent
  • Self-harm or other alarming behavior
  • Protective factors

The components included in SRA documentation should include:

  • Informed consent
  • Information collected from a biopsychosocial perspective
  • Formulation of risk and rationale
  • Treatment plans and consultations

An assessment should never be fixed, but should rather be treated as a process spanning several risk factors. An initial assessment may only reveal some risk factors, but other factors may be unveiled through further assessment and treatment. For that reason, no conclusions should be made.

Addressing insufficient training among mental health providers

We’ve established the importance of documenting SRAs, as well as the components involved. This practice can only be carried out by mental health providers with adequate training in suicide risk assessment and management.

Unfortunately, many mental health providers aren’t adequately trained to properly document SRAs. For this reason, documentation is often either absent or missing crucial details regarding patient assessment.

In one study of 339 clinical psychologists, nearly 80 percent didn’t document patients’ access to firearms. In another study of 488 veterans with a history of depression, 244 died by suicide – 70 percent of whom had no documented SRAs on file. Another study among veterans found that patients with documented SRAs (including high-quality safety plans) were less likely to experience documented suicidal behavior in the years following treatment than those with low-quality documentation.

In 2012, the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention recommended updates to suicide prevention training for healthcare professionals across the US. As of 2017, there were 43 states that had a suicide prevention plan in place – two of which had policies “mandating and encouraging” suicide prevention training among healthcare professionals. Eight of those states mandated suicide prevention education and five states only encouraged it.

Lost a loved one to suicide? Demand justice now!

While mandated suicide prevention training is a step in the right direction, it’s critical that healthcare professionals are adequately trained and prepared to provide life-saving intervention. Lacking such training or overlooking potential risk factors can be dangerous for patients.

If a patient is at risk of dying by suicide, it’s crucial for facility staff to provide adequate monitoring and take preventive measures as needed. If you’re loved one died by suicide because the healthcare professionals who treated him or her failed to assess suicide risk and provide intervention and documentation, it’s important that you discuss this matter with an experienced, compassionate Texas suicide lawyer. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson is dedicated to helping families find answers and pursue justice. We offer free and confidential consultations. You can contact us online or call (214) 618-8222.

For clinicians who want the best advice on documenting a suicide assessment, I recommend “The Practical Art of Suicide Assessment: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals and Substance Abuse Counselors, (2011) by Dr. Shawn Christopher Shea.  See Appendix A: “How To Document A Suicide Assessment.”  If you follow the advice of Appendix A lives will be saved.

Prevalence of suicide among adolescent females

Texas suicide lawyerYoung people across the United States are among the most vulnerable when it comes to suicide risks. In fact, it is the second most common cause of death among youth ages 10-19 – taking more than 85,000 lives from 1975-2016.

A Nationwide Children’s Hospital study posted in JAMA Network indicates that the suicide rate among girls ages 10-14 was “three-fold” from 1999-2014, according to Forbes.

The study pulled data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing the need to scrutinize the increased suicide rates among young females – especially suicide by suffocation or hanging. Historically, females had higher rates of only contemplating or attempting suicide, while males had a higher rate of actually dying by suicide.

“Overall, we found a disproportionate increase in female youth suicide rates compared to males, resulting in a narrowing of the gap between male and female suicide rates,” said Donna Ruch, PhD and lead author of the study, in a press release.

Youth suicide and its connection to social media

The development and socialization of young females, as well as the prevalence of social media among tweens and teens, is considered a risk factor that should be scrutinized. The prevalence of social media has raised some concerns regarding how it impacts the mental health of adolescents.

Excessive use of social media not only inhibits the ability of children and teens to develop a healthy social life, it opens the door for exclusion and cyberbullying.

“Kids text all sorts of things that you would never in a million years contemplate saying to anyone’s face,” said Dr. Donna Wick, a clinical and developmental psychologist.

In addition, Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair attributes the risk to low self-esteem to the need for adolescent females to compare themselves to others.

“Girls are socialized more to compare themselves to other people, girls in particular, to develop their identities, so it makes them more vulnerable to the downside of all this,” she said.

For adolescents in general, acceptance and “being liked” is a monumental part of their identity. Adolescent females mostly care about their appearance and may spend hours scouring through photos to decide which ones to post on social media. Simply not getting enough “likes” in comparison to someone else, or receiving negative comments, can be enough to make adolescent girls feel alienated.

Behaviors and warning signs to watch out for

It’s important that parents monitor what their children do on social media. Feelings of hopelessness or being excluded can manifest in ways that may seem rather subtle.

There are several behaviors and warning signs that may indicate contemplation of suicide, according to Healthline.

These include:

  • Making threats or comments about taking own life
  • Socially withdrawing from friends, family, and community
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Engaging in aggressive, impulsive, or reckless behavior
  • Exhibiting dramatic mood swings, anxiousness or agitation
  • Talking, writing or thinking about death
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, or being trapped
  • Giving away possessions

Adolescent years can be a difficult time, especially among females. It may be difficult to see their point of view and why the need for social acceptance is so important for teenagers – it’s an inevitable a part of their development and identity.

Parental involvement simply isn’t enough to curtail the suicide rate among teens. Suicide prevention takes cultural change and awareness in our schools and communities.

The Law Offices of Skip Simpson not only seeks to promote such awareness in our culture but treat cases of adolescent suicide with the utmost care and help families find answers. If you have lost a loved one to suicide, we’d like to discuss your matter with you. You can contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation.

The Impact Death by Suicide Has on Those Affected

Texas suicide lawyerAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate in the United States has increased by 33 percent from 1999-2017 and suicide takes an average of 40,000 lives per year. The rate among children and teens, however, is even higher.

The CDC said death by suicide among children ages 10-17 his increased by 70 percent between 2006-2016.

Following a slew of deaths by suicide among children – including an eighth-grade boy and 8-year-old boy from Cincinnati – adolescents are being taught how to identify the warning signs of suicide in their health classes.

Cincinnati Public Radio’s Cincinnati Edition features an audio interview with three school officials: Culture and Safety Manager Dr. Carrie Bunger of Cincinnati Public Schools, Public Information Officer Tracey Carson of Mason City Schools, and Assistant Professor Dr. Jennifer Wright-Berryman of the University of Cincinnati College of Allied Health Sciences School of Social Work – all of whom are familiar with the devastation of suicide.

The ripple effects

Suicide among children and teens can devastate school peers, as well as an entire community. One concern expressed by school officials is contagion. It’s a “ripple effect” that can lead to more than one suicide within a community. According to U.S. News & World Report, teens ages 15-19 are the most susceptible to contagion after being exposed to suicide.

In the interview, Carson discusses the contagion effects of suicide:

“There is no worse day than the day that you come in and you call your staff together to share that your student has died by suicide. It’s just truly one of the worst things that happens in a school community, but it ripples out, because when we have a young person who dies by suicide, it doesn’t just end at school. It impacts an entire community.”

Providing social and emotional support to grieving students

When addressing death by suicide, school officials must be explicit about what happened, while accommodating the emotional needs of those who are affected. It starts with identifying those students who are grieving and prompting teachers, counselors, and other school faculty to provide support.

It is important that school districts avoid prolonged memorials of a student who died by suicide.

“To impact contagion, to romanticize, and for those students, for the living, that may be at that cusp of ‘I’m feeling a level of despair’,” Bunger said. “It is something that we have been very mindful of in terms of honoring the living and making sure that we are providing proactive strategies to help support those students that are with us and coming through the school walls.”

Identifying the signs and providing early intervention

According to Wright-Berryman, there are several suicide red flags school faculty and students can watch out for. The primary cause of suicide among children and teens is the feeling of being excluded and isolated.

The signs often include:

  • Sudden behavior changes
  • Sudden substance abuse
  • Social isolation
  • Academic failure
  • Academic success (in some cases)
  • Social media activity that raises red flags
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Suddenly quitting a sports team, musical activity, or other extracurricular activity
  • Talking about suicide or self-harm

According to the school officials in the interview, children and teens who are suicidal are most likely to reach out to their peers rather than adults. Giving students the tools they need to identify the warning signs and to refer their peers to adults is critical.

Part of the problem among children and teens, as well as in society at large, is the cultural view of intervention. There seems to be a social stigma surrounding mental health that deters many individuals from seeking help.

We expect our school systems and communities to promote a culture of suicide awareness and early intervention. If the signs are there, it’s up to responsible parties to intervene, if they can. They should be held accountable. That’s why it’s important for a child’s loved ones to contact suicide lawyer Skip Simpson for a free consultation.

Link Between Adolescent Cannabis Use and Suicide in Early Adulthood

Texas suicide lawyerWe’ve heard the ceaseless debate over whether or not cannabis is safe for adults. With many states legalizing its use for recreational purpose, some adults enjoy the benefits of cannabis-based products in their leisure time.

However, adolescents using cannabis can suffer from adverse psychological effects that manifest in early adulthood. The common notion about cannabis is that it can’t cause any health complications because it’s all-natural, but this is misconceived. Studies have found a link between adolescent cannabis use and increased risk of developing depression, anxiety, and psychosis in early adulthood – all of which increase the risk of suicide.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis, can have a psychoactive and mood-altering effect on young people, many of whom haven’t reached full brain development, as reported by scientists at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and McGill University in a study dubbed Association of Cannabis Use in Adolescence and Risk of Depression, Anxiety, and Suicidality in Young Adulthood.

How prevalent is cannabis use among adolescents?

Evidence points to adolescent cannabis use as a factor in the growing rate of depression among teens and millennials. In fact, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association analyzed medical claims data from 2013 to 2016 and found a 63 percent increase of depression among teens and a 47 percent increase among millennials.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) cites 2018 data from the University of Michigan regarding marijuana use among American adolescents in grades 8, 10, and 12. Nearly six percent of 12th graders reported using cannabis on a daily basis. That amounts to about one in 16 high school seniors with a significant habit.

NIH researchers also found that cannabis use through vaping increased from 2017 to 2018. Among adolescents:

  • 2.6 percent of 8th graders reported vaping marijuana in the past month – a 59.7 percent increase from 2017
  • 7 percent of 10th graders reported vaping marijuana in the past month – a 62.7 percent increase from 2017
  • 7.5 percent of 12th graders reported vaping marijuana in the past month – a 50.6 percent increase from 2017

The emotional and psychological risks

The study was a meta-analysis of 11 international studies involving 23,317 individuals. Researchers found that marijuana use can affect mental health in adolescents who didn’t previously suffer from mental illness.

In addition, the study found that around 25,000 Canadians and 400,000 Americans ages 18-30 suffered from depression related to cannabis use during adolescence. Symptoms of depression included anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts.

While the likelihood of adult cannabis use resulting in depression is moderate, the condition is widespread among younger users.

Prevention measures

One conclusion of McGill researcher Dr. Gabriella Gobbi was that advocacy groups need to educate adolescents on the dangers of using cannabis while the brain is still in development.

With society being affected by such a driver of mental illness, early intervention is critical. It’s not enough to reiterate hackneyed anti-drug slogans that have proven to be ineffective over the years. Teenagers need more parental involvement. In addition, they need more emotional support from school counselors and faculty.

If you have lost a loved one due to a suicide that could have been prevented, suicide lawyer Skip Simpson understands the pain and devastation you may be going through. He is dedicated to helping families seek answers and justice. Contact the Law Offices of Skip Simpson today for a free consultation. We are here to help.

Why Recognizing the Signs of Suicide Isn’t Enough

Texas suicide lawyerPeople who die by suicide don’t always give warnings or show signs of suffering. They can appear healthy to others while concealing emotional pain, mental illness, or a personality disorder. According to Harvard Health, those who take their own lives often do so due to:

  • Episodes of depression, psychosis, or anxiety
  • A major loss in life
  • A major life event that leads to stress or isolation
  • Social isolation or loss of social support
  • Changes in mood due to illness or medication
  • Exposure to suicidal behavior in others

When suicide comes as a shock

The New York Post reports that a young woman from Manhattan, who worked as a dietitian, died by suicide after hanging herself in her West Village apartment.

Prior to her death, the woman posted a suicide note and apology to her mother online. In the opening line of the note, she said, “I have written this note several times in my head for over a decade, and this one finally feels right. No edits, no overthinking. I have accepted hope is nothing more than delayed disappointment, and I am just plain old-fashioned tired of feeling tired.”

Police were called for a wellness check after concerned co-workers reported that she didn’t show up for work. Another suicide note was found in a folder in her living room.

Like many suicides, the death of this young woman came as a shock to those that knew her. She clearly lived a life considered ideal by most people. She had a good career, social life, and seemed otherwise to be in good health.

So how do you recognize when a loved one or friend is suffering? How do you pick up on the subtle signs of potential areas of concern in someone who appears well on the surface?

When you casually ask “how are you doing?”, be alert to answer when your gut tells you something may be amiss. Don’t be afraid to talk to your loved ones and others for whom you really care about sensitive subject matters.

Overcoming the stigma

Many people who suffer from these feelings avoid expressing them or reaching out to others for help, not just because they don’t want to reveal their own vulnerabilities, but because they don’t want to burden others.

When an individual takes his or her own life, it can leave loved ones and friends with a sense of guilt, that there was something they should have done to prevent it.

At times suicide notes, when they are left, give us a glimpse into what research has shown. Psychology Today cites research into the notes left by both those who attempted suicide and those who died by suicide.

Among those who died by suicide, the most common factor was a sense of burden on other people. In addition, they had a history of being impervious to physical pain such as violently engaging in extreme sports, receiving multiple tattoos and body piercings, shooting guns, and fighting. They are typically not afraid of enduring the pain and intense emotions that come with completing the act.

Creating culture of suicide prevention

Not all individuals who die by suicide exhibit the same patterns of behavior or express the same signs. Suicide prevention shouldn’t merely be approached when we notice signs of suffering in a friend or loved one. It must become an active conversation in our culture. Those suffering from mental and emotional illness should be able to seek help without the fear of facing social stigma.

For many years, the Law Offices of Skip Simpson has witnessed the hold this stigma has on our society. Our firm seeks to help families and friends find closure and answers. If you lost a loved one due to suicide, we would like to discuss your matter and explore your legal options.

Perhaps the individual who died by suicide didn’t receive appropriate medical care prior to his or her death. Perhaps a thorough investigation into events leading up to the individual’s death could reveal other factors. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.