Suicide Copy

Between 20 and 30% of young people experiencing their first psychosis have been found to be a danger to themselves or others before receiving effective treatment – including suicide attempts.

Suicide risk remains high across all psychotic disorders and about 10-15% of individuals with a psychotic disorder diagnosis complete suicide. The majority of these suicide completions occur within the first few years following onset of psychosis. Therefore, it is important to regularly assess for suicide risk and if risk is present develop a risk management plan and engage in appropriate treatments.

Early warning signs

  • Difficulties with school/job/peers
  • Neglect of appearance/body hygiene
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Dropping out of social activities
  • Changes in sleep/eating patterns
  • Depression
  • Increased use of street drugs and/or alcohol
  • Talk of suicide/death or self harm
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Conveying a sense of hopelessness/helplessness
  • Agitation/restlessness

Later warning signs

  • Overly self critical
  • Sensitivity to failure, criticism, compliments
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Ending significant relationships
  • Heightened anger
  • Pessimism about future/wellness/treatment outcomes
  • Overly concerned with stigma of mental illness
  • Developing suicide plan/means/making final arrangements
  • Giving away possessions
  • Sudden improvement in mood
  • Taking unnecessary risks

In addition to these specific indicators more general considerations are important to document. Previous suicide attempts, history of mood disorders, family history of suicide or death, comorbidity and limited access to mental health services put youth at a greater risk of harming themselves.

To read a fact sheet on youth suicide in BC in general (not specific to early psychosis) click here (requires Adobe Acrobat)

CMHA has developed a number of practical materials including “When a family member is suicidal” and “Preventing Suicide” which can be accessed here – https://cmha.ca/documents/preventing-suicide

BC Partners has a website that provides very practical and useful information about a range of topics including suicide and alcohol and drug problems. They also have information about anxiety, depression, and body image. There are a number of toolkits for use by clients and families that are excellent resources. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the resources available on this website. http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/

Activity Two

Complete a suicide risk assessment of David. How high do you think David’s current suicide risk is and why? What steps do you think should be taken to help reduce his risk?

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