When Larry Anders moved into the Bay at Burlington nursing home in late 2017, he wasn’t supposed to be there long. At 77, the stoic Wisconsin machinist had just endured the death of his wife of 51 years and a grim new diagnosis: throat cancer, stage 4.
His son and daughter expected him to stay two weeks, tops, before going home to begin chemotherapy. From the start, they were alarmed by the lack of care at the center, where, they said, staff seemed indifferent, if not incompetent — failing to check on him promptly, handing pills to a man who couldn’t swallow.
Anders never mentioned suicide to his children, who camped out day and night by his bedside to monitor his care.
But two days after Christmas, alone in his nursing home room, Anders killed himself. He didn’t leave a note.
Suicide continues to be a major driver of mortality in the United States. Each year, more than 45,000 people die by suicide and in the past 15 years, the suicide mortality rate has risen by an alarming 24%. A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine examines how illness plays a role in suicide risk. Researchers found that 17 physical health conditions, ailments such as back pain, diabetes, and heart disease, were associated with an increased risk of suicide. Two of the conditions — sleep disorders and HIV/AIDS — represented a greater than twofold increase, while traumatic brain injury made individuals nine times more likely to die by suicide.
While the rates of other causes of death have declined in recent years, suicide continues to trend upwards across all ages and genders. Many people who die by suicide do not have a prior mental health diagnosis, which means that patients at an increased risk for self-harm are somehow being missed by the mainstream healthcare system. In an attempt to gain some insight into the disturbing rise in suicide rates and possible novel interventions, researchers examined whether there is a link between physical illness and suicide risk.
Not being employed linked with greater likelihood of death than history of diabetes or stroke.
Unemployment is associated with a 50% higher risk of death in patients with heart failure, according to research presented today at Heart Failure 2017 and the 4th World Congress on Acute Heart Failure. The observational study in more than 20,000 heart failure patients found that not being employed was linked with a greater likelihood of death than history of diabetes or stroke.
“The ability to hold a job brings valuable information on wellbeing and performance status,” said lead author Dr Rasmus Roerth, a physician at Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark. “And workforce exclusion has been associated with increased risk of depression, mental health problems and even suicide.”
Stroke patients can be up to twice as likely to commit suicide compared with the rest of the population, and the risk of attempted suicide is highest within the first two years after a stroke. These are the findings of a study from Umeå University published in the journal Neurology.
“The study shows the need of both psychological and social support, as well as concrete measures to prevent suicide attempts, in people who have had a stroke and are at high risk of attempted suicide. The initiatives must also be put in place at an early stage as the risk of attempted suicide is greatest up to two years after a stroke,” says Marie Eriksson, senior lecturer at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine and senior lecturer in Statistics at the Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University, who conducted the study.