Wednesday, May 08, 2013

What do we make of the rising suicide rates?

Over on our Psychology Today website, I talked about the CDC's announcement that suicide rates are on the rise, a trend that's been going on for over a decade.  For today's blog post, please see:

Rising Suicide Rates: Have We Simply Failed?

Thank you to Faye who sent me the link to the radio show.


Double Billing, my novel about a psychiatrist who discovers she has an identical twin, remains free as a kindle download until May 11th.  Since yesterday, it's had over 750 downloads.  Keeping my day job, so I'm happy to have people read it for free.


Psycritic said...

Purely speculative, but I wonder how much the rise in suicide rates amongst the baby boomers may have to do with narcissism, and how perhaps the narcissistic injuries of fading youth coupled with financial strain may be hard to bear for some individuals.

This paper, which I unfortunately do not have access to, seems to ask many of the same questions you do in the Psychology Today article.

The fact that suicide by hanging showed an especially sharp increase makes me wonder about the psychodynamic aspects of that form of suicide.

Anonymous said...

The link to your Psychology Today blog post isn't working for me. And one small correction--the station is KQED, the San Francisco NPR/PBS affiliate. I'll try putting a direct link to the program here:

Congrats on the Double Billing downloads!


Dinah said...


I thought I stuck you on our blogroll. I will have to try again. The radio show also talked about narcissism.

Thanks, I hope I fixed everything. I try so hard.

Joel Hassman, MD said...

The follow up question has to be this: can we as providers make an impact to lower the risk? If it is a focus solely on meds, well, I think that is part of the dynamic leading to this statistic as is.

The next question after that is simply this: will insurers start to pay for psychotherapy as intended?

I would love to see the stats of how many suicides were solely managed on medication. Not that I would be happy with the numbers, but, it would validate to me that the hypothesis that people who make the effort to talk are less likely to take their life.

And yes, the role of addiction or at least access to mind altering substances is a key player. Hence the need for not negotiating with people who want to continue to use and not seek out structured substance abuse programs. Good luck defending that position if you do not at least document the patient was given boundaries to follow up care for mental health needs.

Yeah, sounds harsh, so is suicide!

Ian Tomlinson said...

There seems to be a rise in suicide rates in the social group who are least likely to come for therapy. I know of many men who think going into therapy is a sign of weakness. I rarely have men over 50 coming for therapy at all.

Anonymous said...

-I think sometimes that a precondition of seeking out someone to tell this to is wanting/ being OK with a psychiatric diagnosis/ psychiatric treatment. Also, I think sometimes that not wanting a psychiatric diagnosis or psychiatric treatment is considered the problem (poor insight, stigma, etc) when I don't think this is true. So, I think that you have to want what's on offer, and I think it's possible to really want to talk to someone about this outside of any psychiatric or even therapeutic frame.
- It seems sometimes that the target of suicide prevention interventions is people who are feeling agitated/ out of control/ "not safe"/ etc. So the focus of the intervention seems to be on resisting this thought. But I think that it's to have these thoughts, to feel that this is an option that is on the table,to want to be able to talk about these thoughts (without diagnosis/ treatment), but to know that when it comes down to it there is no problem in resisting the thought for any specified period of time. If you are not feeling out of control/ could easily agree not to act on these thoughts for the next day/ week/ month, I am not sure what the point of talking to someone about this is. I think there is a risk of just frustrating clinicians.
-In reference to the comment about psychotherapy over medication: When I am feeling like this a big part of this is feeling very very intense self-criticism/ self-loathing. I worry that I have a fundamentally bad character, and I worry that people (and very specifically psychiatrists) can see right through me, and see this bad character. I worry that people, psychiatrists especially, hate me. I feel overwhelmed by the thought that everything I think/ believe/ feel/ say reveals something about my personality--that scrutiny feels very intense, and I think that in this kind of situation any kind of psychotherapeutic dialogue would just make things worse. I'm not sure what the solution is, but I do wonder if therapy would just make this worse for some people
-I fantasize about walking into a confessional in a church (=no eye contact) and telling this to a very kind, very wise and non-judgmental priest. (I don't know if such a person exists, and I'm not religious). I want to feel that someone understands this experience (and does not view it as a symptom).