November 2016: Science of Suicidality (SOS)

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November 2016: Science of Suicidality (SOS)

A Machine Learning Approach to Identifying the Thought Markers of Suicidal Subjects: A Prospective Multicenter Trial

J. P. Pestian, M. Sorter, B. Connolly, K. B. Cohen, C. McCullumsmith, J. T. Gee, L. Morency, S. Scherer, & L. Rohlfs for the STM Research Group.

This study used machine learning to incorporate both verbal and non-verbal suicidal thought markers.  The authors investigated a mixed sample of 371 patients (with a similar distribution of suicidal patients, non-suicidal patients with mental illness, and controls) from 3 sites (2 in Cincinnati and 1 in Southern West Virginia).  This methodology resulted in a higher identification of suicidal patients than use of the C-SSRS alone.  Because some healthcare providers use the C-SSRS, this study identifies additional information which improves the detection of suicidality when using the C-SSRS.  Implementation of this methodology may increase the sensitivity of the C-SSRS in healthcare settings.



Discovery and replication of a peripheral tissue DNA methylation biosignature to augment a suicide prediction model

M. L. Clive, M. P. Boks, C. H. Vinkers, L. M. Osborne, J. L. Payne, K. J. Ressler, A. K. Smith, H. C. Wilcox, & Z. Kaminsky.

This study looks at several biomarkers to find a DNA methylation biosignature in blood and saliva datasets for suicide and PTSD in those with SKA2 methylation.  The authors used existing datasets for analysis and isolated a unique biosignature related to immune status.  They believe use of this biosignature may help to improve suicide prediction in those with PTSD.



Increase in US Suicide Rates and the Critical Decline in Psychiatric Beds

T. Bastiampillai, S. S. Sharfstein, & S. Allison.

This short article highlights the relationship between the increase in suicide rates and the reduction in psychiatric beds in the United States.  This article may be helpful for mental health policy makers to consider when determining funding for psychiatric hospitals.



Psychometric Characteristics of the Wish to Be Dead Scale (WDS) in Iranian Psychiatric Outpatients

M. Dadfar, D. Lester, & M. K. A. Vahid.

This study looks at the psychometric characteristics of the Farsi version of the Wish to Be Dead Scale in comparison to a number of psychological variables believed to have high correlation to the wish to be dead.  The authors investigated a convenience sample of 200 psychiatric outpatients in Iran.  In many Islamic countries it is particularly difficult for patients to communicate about suicidality.  Using a scale focused solely on passive suicidal ideation and not on any other types of suicidality, may enable patients experiencing suicidality to admit to some of their symptoms without fear they may face additional repercussions.



Spectroscopy markers of suicidal risk and mental pain in depressed patients

F. Jollant, J. Near, G. Turecki, & S. Richard-Devantoy.

This study looks at the relationship exists between at-rest levels of 9 metabolites (glutamate, glutamine, glutathione, GABA, N-acetylaspartate [NAA], N-acetylaspartylglutamate, myo-inositol, aspartate, total choline), in the right dorsal prefrontal cortex, 9 clinical variables (HAM-A, MDIS, CGI, BIS-11, BGLHA, the Columbia Suicide History Form, SIS, SSI, Childhood Trauma Questionnaire), and 3 cognitive assessments (Stroop Color Test, FAS verbal fluency test, and IGT).  The authors studied a sample of 25 un-medicated depressed patients (including 15 with a history of suicidal behavior) and 33 healthy controls.  They found markers of impaired neuronal and glial functioning in the right dorsal prefrontal cortex.  They believe these markers underlie the cardinal symptoms of a suicidal crisis and suggest that targeting this region may be relevant for short-term suicide prevention.



Suicide, Impulsivity and its Relationship to Platelet Serotonin Levels

A. Kumar, S. Gupta, M. Raju, A. Sharma, & A. Prasad.

This study looks at the relationship between platelet serotonin levels and trait impulsivity in a convenience sample of 31 patients who attempted suicide.  Trait impulsivity was measured using impulsivity questions in the Revised Diagnostic Interview for Borderlines, which was translated into Marathi.  This study found low platelet serotonin levels in those who attempted suicide and noted that low serotonin levels were inversely related to trait impulsivity only in the male subjects.  This report adds to the growing body of research which attempts to identify biomarkers for suicidality and the role of impulsivity in suicidality.



Suicide Prediction – A Shift in Paradigm Is Needed

J. Hawgood & D. De Leo.

This article highlights some difficulties in suicide prediction.  It recommends a shift from the attempt to predict death by suicide based on various measures to the use of a protocol for screening potential suicidal persons.  The “Screening Tool for Assessing Risk of Suicide” (STARS) which is comprised of 3 parts (the Suicidal Behavior Enquiry, the Risk Factor Enquiry, and the Protective Factors Enquiry).  STARS helps a clinician to collaboratively and compassionately engage the patient in a discussion of sensitive personal topics.  The authors hope the use of STARS will reduce clinician anxiety, and, thus, improve the therapeutic relationship.  While the format of STARS precludes it from being used to assess the efficacy of anti-suicidality medication treatments, an adapted version of this protocol may be used as a starting point to build the therapeutic rapport in clinical trials for anti-suicidality medication treatments.



Testing the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide in Chronic Pain

K. G. Wilson, A. Heenan, J. Kowal, P. R. Henderson, L. A. McWilliams, & D. Castillo.

This study tests the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide in people with chronic pain by investigating the importance of two central constructs (perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness) of this theory.  The authors report that after adjusting for other known or putative risk factors related to pain and mental health, perceived burdensomeness significantly predicted suicidal ideation, whereas thwarted belongingness did not.


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