Diabetes, epilepsy, and asthma may increase the risk of suicide and self-harm. For the study, the researchers compared different psychiatric and physical disorders in England. Along with diabetes, epilepsy, and asthma, other physical illnesses associated with a higher risk of suicide and self-harm included migraine, psoriasis, eczema, and inflammatory polyarthropathies.
Authors Dr. Arvind Singhal and Dr. Jack Ross said, “It is important for physicians, general practitioners, and mental health workers to be aware of the physical disorders that are associated with an increased risk of self-harm so that at-risk individuals may be better identified and can be monitored for any psychiatric symptoms and mental distress.”
Risk factors for suicide in diabetes and epilepsy patients
Diabetes and epilepsy are chronic conditions that often cause a great deal of stress, which could increase the risk of suicide and self-harm as people may not be able to live with either condition.
Other risk factors associated with suicide in diabetes and epilepsy include unemployment, childhood traumas, social isolation, family conflict, and personality traits like aggression, impulsivity, or shame. Diabetics specifically have a higher risk of committing suicide when their condition contributes to other health complications like blindness or an amputation leading to a lack of independence.
If you are a caregiver, it’s important to be aware of these risk factors while also paying attention to any signs indicating that a person may be contemplating suicide. Warning signs of suicide include:
- Talking about wanting to die often
- Looking for ways to kill oneself – searching online or shopping for guns or other objects
- Talking about the absence of a reason to live, hopelessness
- Talking about feeling trapped in pain or their situation
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increased drug or alcohol use
- Anxious or reckless behavior
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Social withdrawal or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings
Tips for preventing suicide and self-harm
Here are some tips that caregivers can utilize in order to help prevent suicide.
- Pay attention to any changes in one’s self-care – they may not be sticking to their treatment plans any longer.
- Be aware of the risk factors for suicide.
- Encourage substance abuse treatment.
- Don’t argue with the person – instead sympathize with them, offer hope and encourage treatment for depression.
- Suggest depression screening.
- Call the doctor, especially if you are worried the patient may not seek help. They may be able to help you come up with a solution.
- Remove weapons, certain medications, and other substances and objects that could lead to suicide.
By following these tips and getting support from others, you as a caregiver may be able to reduce the risk of suicide more effectively.