People with Schizophrenia More Prone to Suicidal Behavior
등록일 2019년 01월 07일 월요일
수정일 2017년 11월 13일 월요일

Photo by: veleknez via Shutterstock

Suicidal behavior has been strongly linked to people with schizophrenia and a study suggested schizophrenics die each year from it.According to Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, the suicidal drive is the most serious of schizophrenic symptoms.Several types of research suggested that depression and schizophrenia have a relationship that leads to suicidal tendencies.

A research conducted by Dr.Alec Roy of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda noted the large variations among studies for the calculated risk of suicide in schizophrenics.Based on the records of the Houston Veterans Administration Hospital, psychiatrist Dr.Alex D.Pokorny in 1964 determined that the suicide rate for male schizophrenic patients was 167 per 100,000 people each year.In 1982, Evenson RC estimated that the age-adjusted male suicide rate was 210 per 100,000 people while there was 90 per 100,000 people for females every year.

A team of researchers at the King's College London in 2011 collected data from several research studies and used the factor of insight to find the relationship between depression and the mental disorder.People with schizophrenia are associated with the lack of insight or anosognosia, a severe mental illness described as the impaired ability of a person to understand and perceive their own illness.Fifteen studies have met the predetermined selection criteria; however, ten failed to show the positive link between insight and suicide risk.

In a follow-up study by Dr.Roy and his team among 127 chronic schizophrenic patients, about 100 provided information.Within the four-year follow-up study, 6 out of 100 committed suicide and 16 other patients attempted to do it.

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that affects the person's perception of reality, such as how they think, feel, and act.They cannot easily differentiate what is imagination and what is reality, and they mostly act with abnormal social behavior, such as being withdrawn, being unable to express emotions normally, and being unresponsive.The mental condition is not split personality or multiple personalities, and most schizophrenics are non-violent and do not pose a threat to others.Moreover, schizophrenia is not caused by poor parenting, lack of willpower or childhood experiences, according to Mental Health America.

The causes of the mental disorder remain unclear today and experts have only theorized genetics, biology, and infections as possible causes.

1.A person with a family history of schizophrenia may inherit the disorder.Schizophrenia may also develop when the person's body undergoes hormonal and physical changes or after experiencing highly stressful situations.

2.A biological connection to schizophrenia has been attributed to the imbalance of brain chemicals or neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.Since these chemicals control the communication of nerve cells, scientists believe that any imbalance may overwhelm the person's reaction to stimuli, a common experience of schizophrenics from loud music to bright lights.

3.Environmental factors such as immune disorders and infections may increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, particularly in babies whose brains have yet to fully develop. 

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

The symptoms are divided into two classification – positive and negative.Positive symptoms mean that some disturbances are added to the person's personality while negative symptoms are lost capabilities from the person's personality.

- Positive symptoms include delusions or false ideas, hallucinations affecting the five senses with hearing voices being the most common, disordered thinking and speech, and disorganized behavior, such as inappropriate clothing for the current weather or uninhibited actions.

- Negative symptoms include withdrawal from social interaction due to the lack of social interest, extreme apathy or lack of interest, loss of initiative, and reduced affection display because of emotional flatness.

During the early stages of schizophrenia, several changes in a person's behavior may be seen immediately.The warning signs of schizophrenia include constantly hearing or seeing something that isn't there, a constant feeling of being watched, a senseless way of communicating via speaking or writing, a drop in academic or work performance, withdrawal from social situations, and weird behaviors.

Treatment of Schizophrenia

There is no cure for schizophrenia but several services can help manage the symptoms and improve the person's quality of life.Rehabilitation services help recover the person's confidence and skills needed to live a productive life.Examples of rehabilitation services are self-help groups that provide information from people who experienced mental illness themselves; psychosocial programs to regain skills like cooking, cleaning, and more; and drop-in centers where people with mental conditions socialize.Antipsychotic medications are usually used to help manage the symptoms of schizophrenia.Typical medications treat positive symptoms while atypical antipsychotic drugs treat both positive and negative symptoms.These medications help reduce the chemical imbalance that causes the disorder and decreases the chance of relapse.However, these drugs must be taken with the guidance of a mental health professional for the safety of the patient.

Additional Information

- More than 21 million people are affected by schizophrenia.

- Schizophrenics are 2 to 2.5 times more likely to die early than normal people.

- Schizophrenia is a treatable disorder with medication and psychosocial support.

Liza Tan기자  
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