Tue, Sep 12, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Better sleep lessens suicide risk: research

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Research suggests that improving sleep quality can reduce an individual’s tendency to attempt suicide, the John Tung Foundation said on Sunday, which was World Suicide Prevention Day.

WHO analysis on suicide showed that about 800,000 people kill themselves worldwide every year, while up to 25 times as many attempt to commit suicide, the Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center (TSPC) said

The John Tung Foundation said a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in June suggested that treating a person’s insomnia can improve their emotional health, and also reduce the risk of that person committing suicide.

The study was conducted by a research team at Stanford University’s School of Medicine on 50 university students aged between 18 and 23 who had had suicidal thoughts. Their sleeping behavior was monitored for a week, the foundation said.

The results showed that the students who suffered sleeping disorders were more likely to have suicidal thoughts, it said.

John Tung Foundation mental health section head Yeh Ya-hsin (葉雅馨) said the study suggested that sleeping problems can lead to young people having suicidal thoughts and that it could be used for suicide prevention because sleeping disorders can be observed and are not stigmatized like mental health issues.

“Most people have experiences of sleeping poorly... and it can affect their emotions when they awake the next day, such as becoming bad-tempered, impatient, unable to concentrate or acting on impulse,” she said.

Other studies have shown that about 15 percent of people with depression die by suicide and that sleeping disorders are one of the easiest symptoms of depression to observe, Yeh said, adding that parents should pay more attention to their children’s sleeping problems and not neglect them, as they can be warning signs of mental health issues.

Suicide is usually the result of multiple causes and often the person is suffering intense stress and despair, or symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, depression or an inferiority complex, TSPC director Lee Ming-been (李明濱) said

About 30 percent of adults in Taiwan suffer from sleep disorders and many take sleeping pills, but if it is beginning to affect them mentally, they are better advised to seek treatment from a psychiatrist, Lee said.

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