A new study performed by researchers at the National institutes of Health has determined that children who suffer from Cushing Syndrome may be at a higher risk for suicide and depression than children who do not have this syndrome. The condition is a disorder of the endocrine system which is rare, and it results in the production of abnormally high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Often the excess hormone is caused when a tumor forms on the pituitary or adrenal glands, but it can also be the result of taking excessive steroid medications as well. There is a marked difference in the development of depression between adults and children who suffer from Cushing Syndrome. Adults typically experience anxiety and depression before receiving treatment while children generally develop these same symptoms after treatment is received.
NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Division of Intramural Research director Constantine Stratakis, a senior author of the study on Cushing Syndrome, depression, and suicide, explained the study results. Stratakis stated “Our results indicate that physicians who care for young people with Cushing syndrome should screen their patients for depression-related mental illness after the underlying disease has been successfully treated. Patients may not tell their doctors that they’re feeling depressed, so it’s a good idea for physicians to screen their patients proactively for depression and related conditions.” The findings for the study have been published in Pediatrics. Researchers have suggested that children who have Cushing Syndrome should be informed that they could experience changes after treatment so these patients know what to expect and they can report any changes to their physician.
The link between mental illness and violence have led to individuals who have a mental illness being singled out or viewed with fear instead of compassion. Numerous studies and statistics show that people who are mentally ill are much more likely to commit suicide than they are to direct violence at someone else. In the USA alone in the year 2013 16,000 homicides were committed, and only 5% or around 800 of these homicides were committed by someone with a mental illness. In the same year 41,000 people commuted suicide in America, and around 90% of these individuals had at least one form of mental illness. These numbers show that someone who is mentally ill is more likely to harm themselves than they are to be violent with others.
The key to stopping violence and lowering the suicide rate is effective treatment for mental illness. Often individuals who have mental problems fall through the cracks. Treatment may be difficult to obtain, and mental illness can affect the thinking and decision making that the individual engages in. Many are calling for better mental health services and earlier intervention, and some are advocating for a return of policies from the past when the mentally ill were locked up indefinitely. Politicians rarely point out the suicide rate for mentally ill people while at the same time they are quick to blame mental illness when a mass shooting occurs and the perpetrator suffered from a mental condition. Until treatment for mental health is available to everyone who needs it there will be incidents of violence but these are much smaller than the number of people who take their own lives because they are mentally ill.
substance abuse, violence, suicide
There are proven links between substance abuse, violence, and suicide. Drug and alcohol abuse increase the risk that an individual will either become violent towards others or attempt to take their own life. There is some ambiguity in the studies and statistics though, because individuals who have substance abuse issues may also suffer from mental disorders that can play a role as well. Anyone who has an undiagnosed mental illness may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to self medicate, and in these situations it can be hard to determine what was caused by the substance abuse and which actions and behaviors are actually the result of an underlying mental disorder that has not been accurately diagnosed and effectively treated.
Substance abuse has the ability to lower inhibitions, and in some cases violence is the result of this. When someone is drunk or high they may lash out in ways that would not occur when the individual is sober. Acts of violence may also increase the risk of suicide, especially if the individual feels that they can not control violent tendencies. If the person feels depressed or has emotional pain on a constant basis then this can also cause suicidal thoughts. When substance abuse is added into the mix then the person is more likely to act on an impulse to harm themselves or others because the drugs or alcohol use eliminates any restraint that they might have. Since around 90% of suicide attempts can be linked to mental illness it is important that any mental disorders are accurately diagnosed and substance abuse is avoided.