November 21, 2006

What Percentage of Suicides Had Depression?

In the same JCP issue in which atrocities were committed, McGirr and friends looked at 351 Canadian  consecutive suicides, and then performed a psychological autopsy to find out what had been wrong with them.

Almost all of the women killed themselves with two methods: overdose (46%); surprisingly,  hanging (38%).  For men, it was hanging (53%) or firearm a distant second (16%).  I don't know what's going on in Montreal, but it's different than LA.  (Less guns?  More trees?)

In comparison to men, women were more likely to be college grads and have jobs, to have a lifetime history of depression or anxiety, but less likely to have ever abused alcohol (26% females vs 44% males).

In the six months prior to the suicide,

Depression:   males 52%; females 56%

Anxiety: males 10%; females 15%

Alcohol: males 31%; females 18%. 


So there it is, more than half of suicides were depressed at the time of the hanging/shooting/OD.

Which is fine, but there is one statistic the authors neglected to report:

Number of patients who had been in psychiatric treatment at the time of death: 10. 

The number 10 doesn't appear in the study, and repeated attempts to get the actual number from the authors were failures: "we don't have systematic data."  Ok: the same group put out another study: out of 422 suicides, 28% had been to psychiatry in the past year.  Let me translate: 70% had not. 

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it fall, shouldn't we get some guys out to the forest? 



Addendum: in the Oct 2006 Am J Pub Health, the authors find that suicide rates have been decreasing-- dramatically-- especially for the elderly since 1985 (from 21/100k to 16/100k) and youth since 1995 (14/100k to 10/100k).  But it's worth repeating that the number of actual suicides is still very small.


"the 70% who had not been t... (Below threshold)

June 4, 2007 7:03 PM | Posted by Boggart: | Reply

"the 70% who had not been to psychiatry in the past year" probably all had a written GP's referral GP abandoned in a drawer and not acted on.
because if one IS 'depressed', one cannot actually seek help*.
The depressee cannot imagine what the therapist could possibly do to treat the condition.
The depressee lacks motivation.

* 'seeking' involves
1. the phone call for an appointment
2. coping with a snooty receptionist
3. waiting months for the appointment
4. getting there and waiting ...
a genuinely depressed person finds all of the above Just Too Hard to achieve ... and in the light of not being able to believe that anything can come of it, gives up.

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I had heard before that abo... (Below threshold)

July 15, 2009 12:38 AM | Posted by Christina89: | Reply

I had heard before that about half of suicide victims are diagnosed with depression and I wondered to myself; why the hell would you kill yourself unless you are severely depressed? I guess the above comment clarifies that.

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Leave 4yo comments in peace... (Below threshold)

November 2, 2011 4:16 AM | Posted by Nepeta: | Reply

Leave 4yo comments in peace? Why would I do that? =\

Boggart strongly implies through numbers that >70% (maybe even 100%?) of suicides suffered depression -- which is at odds with the numbers in the studies, not to mention silly anyway (what about BPD? anxiety? substance abuse? etc. etc.). If

Also, it makes no sense that depressed people are incapable of seeking help. Obviously some of them are -- you see them in hospitals and clinics, right?

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