Schizophrenia Symptoms & Cure: Suicide Attempts More Likely for People Diagnosed with Disorder, Says Study

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Feb 12, 2016 11:00 AM EST

BULELENG, BALI, INDONESIA - MAY 4 : Komang, 27, who is diagnosed with Schizophrenia, sits in her room where she is chained May 4, 2012 in Buleleng, Bali, Indonesia. Komang is shackled by her own family in order to control her, they say so she doesn't run away and disturb the community. She rarely changes her clothing and since her wrist is chained dressing herself becomes more difficult. Komang comes from a poor family with six siblings and has been chained off and on for years while taking medication for her illness. Her brother, who also has a mental condition, was chained for eight years but has recovered and was released in 2009. Currently, he is monitored by the Suryani Institute for Mental Health, a non-profit institute that cares for the mentally ill, providing free medical and psychiatric treatment. The mental health institute works to get all of their patients released but in some cases the family creates more problems. Many poor families don't have money to pay for hospitalization or go to doctors and inside the spiritual Balinese society there is often a stigma and misinformation about mental illness. Inside the spiritual Balinese society there is often a stigma and misinformation about mental illness. Some people feel that it is the work of the supernatural and their hope of solving the mental disorder is to let the traditional healer do his work. The Indonesian health ministry spends 2.3 percent of the total national budget on health care for a population of approximately 240 million people and has a shortage of psychiatrists and one government run mental hospital in Bali. (Photo : Paula Bronstein/Getty Images )

People diagnosed with schizophrenia are six times more prone to attempt suicide compared to those who have no mental disorders, a new study published in the Hindawi journal for Schizophrenia Research and Treatment revealed.

Researchers examined the data of 21,744 Canadians from a survey conducted by the Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health in 2012. Of the survey respondents, 101 said that they were diagnosed with the disorder; so, the researchers focused their study on these individuals.

"We found that women and those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse and/or major depressive disorder were much more likely to have attempted suicide," said Bailey Hollister, per NDTV.

Comparing the numbers, the researches learned that 39.2 percent of individuals with schizophrenia attempted suicide in their lifetime while 2.8 percent of individuals without the disorder tried to take their life.

"Even after taking into account most of the known risk factors for suicide attempts, those with schizophrenia had six times the odds of having attempted suicide in comparison to those without schizophrenia," said the study's lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson.

Many of these schizophrenics also confirmed that they experienced physical abuse as children. The experts noted that these individuals were five times more likely to take their life compared to the other vulnerable individuals. They exhibit 24 percent of the variability that leads individuals to attempt suicide.

The researchers are hoping that their study will help other mental health experts in dealing with with their patients. "Clearly those with schizophrenia are an extremely vulnerable population," Fuller-Thomson said. "Knowledge of the added risk of suicide attempts associated with childhood abuse and substance abuse could help clinicians improve targeting and outreach to this population."

Meanwhile, Pharma Times reported that drug company Alkermes in Dublin, Ireland is on the second phase of its trial for a new anti-psychotic medication that could help schizophrenic manage their condition. The test is hoping to further evaluate how the drug could affect weight gain when taken over six months.

Existing popular medications for the mental disorders are known to exhibit side effects pertaining to changes in metabolism. However, based on the first phase of the trial, the drug, coded as ALKS 3831, presented 37 percent lower weight gain risk in patients who used to take olanzapine previously. Olanzapine goes by brand names like Zyprexa or Symbyax, per Medline Plus.

"There is a clear and compelling clinical rationale for developing an antipsychotic with the efficacy of olanzapine and a safety profile that addresses the substantial negative health impact of weight gain and metabolic consequences associated with olanzapine," said Alkermes' chief medical officer Elliot Ehrich.


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