Suicide Despite Lack of Mental Disorder

suicideAre additional suicide prevention strategies necessary to help individuals who may take their own life despite lack of a mental disorder?[1] According to a new study, yes.1

While most studies of suicide are based on clinical populations, detection and treatment of a mental disorder is often the main focus in suicide prevention strategies.1 However, recent suicides by several young men in Norway have prompted researchers to focus on suicide prevention strategies for people who do not have a mental disorder.1

Researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health interviewed family and friends of the 10 young men who had taken their own lives, despite their accomplishments and success.1 Researchers found that the young men had compensated for their lack of self-worth by exaggerating the importance of success, which led them to develop a fragile, achievement-based self-esteem.1 This left them vulnerable when faced with rejection and perceived failure.1

“Contrary to previous research suggesting that mental illness—in particular, depression—in the period prior to death is an important risk factor for suicide, few of the informants in our study mentioned depression or other mental illnesses in their narratives,” said researcher Mette Lyberg Rasmussen. “The study’s main findings uncover a particular vulnerability to feeling rejected and to not having succeeded in achieving their goals.”1

“In these situations, there is a strong sense of shame and of being trapped in anger. This develops into unbearable thoughts that the vulnerable person cannot regulate or manage, and leads to a feeling of a life not worth living,” Rasmussen said. “The former strategy, which involved compensation with continual increased efforts, does not work anymore, and suicide becomes a way out of a situation of unbearable psychological pain.”1

The study, although small, required researchers to analyze 61 in-depth interviews and six suicide notes.1 The young men, aged 18 to 30 years, had no prior psychiatric treatment and no previous suicide attempts.1 Rasmussen and colleagues interviewed the men’s mothers, fathers, friends, siblings, and significant others regarding how each experienced the deceased and their suicide.1 Future research should focus on suicide prevention strategies for people who do not have a mental disorder.1

[1] Nauert, R. (2014). Rejection and Sense of Failure can Lead to Suicide. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/02/27/rejection-and-sense-of-failure-can-lead-to-suicide/66465.html

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