CLP 3140 Lecture 15: Chapter 7- Suicide Notes

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Clinical Psychology
CLP 3140

Chapter 7- Suicide - It has been estimated that 1 million people die by suicide each year, more than 38,000 in the United States alone. - Parasuicides: a suicide attempt that does not result in death. What is Suicide? - Suicide: a self-inflicted death in which the person acts intentionally, directly, and consciously. - Accordingly, Shneidman distinguished four kinds of people who intentionally end their lives: the death seeker, death initiator, death ignorer, and death darer. o Death seekers clearly intend to end their lives at the time they attempt suicide. ▪ This singleness of purpose may last only a short time. ▪ It can change to confusion the very next hour or day, and then return again in short order. o Death initiators also clearly intend to end their lives, but they act out of a belief that the process of death is already under way and that they are simply hastening the process. o Death ignorers do not believe that their self-inflicted death will mean the end of their existence. ▪ They believe they are trading their present lives for a better or happier existence. o Death darers experience mixed feelings, or ambivalence about their intent to die, even at the moment of their attempt, and they show this ambivalence in the act itself. - Subintentional deaths: a death in which the victim plays an indirect, hidden, partial, or unconscious role. - Self-injury or self-mutilation, has been added to the list of DSM - Nonsuicidal self-injury be studied for possible inclusion in future revisions of the DSM - Self-injurious behaviors are more common than previously recognized, particularly among teenagers and young adults, and it may be on the increase. How is Suicide Studied? - Retrospective analysis: a psychological autopsy in which clinicians piece together information about a person’s suicide from the person’s past. - Because of these limitations, many researchers also use a second strategy- studying people who survive their suicide attempt. o It is estimated that there are 12 nonfatal suicide attempts for every fatal suicide, Patterns and Statistics - Suicide happens within a larger social setting, and researchers have gathered many statistics regarding the social contexts in which such deaths take place. - Religious affiliation and beliefs may help account for these national differences. - Research is beginning to suggest that religious doctrine may not help prevent suicide, as much has the degree of an individual’s devoutness. - Three times as many women attempt suicide as men, yet men succeed at more than four times the rate of women. - Men tend to use more violent methods, such as shooting, stabbing, or hanging themselves, whereas women use less violent methods, such as drug overdose. - Suicide is also related to social environment and martial status. - Finally, the United States at least, suicide rates seem to vary according to race. - Studies show that factors such as alcohol use, modeling, and the availability of guns may also play a role. What Triggers a Suicide? - Common triggering factors include stressful events, mood and thought changes, alcohol and other drug use, mental disorders, and modeling. Stressful Events and Situations - Researchers have counted more stressful events in the recent lives of suicide attempters than in the lives nonattempters. Social Isolation - However, those without such social supports are particularly vulnerable to suicidal thinking and actions. Serious Illness - People who illnesses cause them great pain or severe disability may try to commit suicide, believing that death is unavoidable and imminent. Abusive or Repressive Environment - Victims of an abusive or repressive environment form which they have little or no hope of escape sometimes commit suicide. Occupational Stress - Some jobs create feelings of tension or dissatisfaction that may trigger suicide attempts. Mood and Thought Changes - Many suicide attempts are preceded by a change in mood. - The most common change is an increase in sadness. - Suicide attempts may also be preceded by shifts in patterns of thinking. - Helplessness: a pessimistic belief that one’s present circumstances, problems, or mood will not change. - Dichotomous thinking: viewing problems and solutions in rigid either/or terms. Alcohol and Other Drug Use - Studies indicate that as many as 70 percent of the people who attempt suicide drink alcohol just before they do so. - It may be that the use of alcohol lowers a person’s fear of committing suicide, releases underlying aggressive feelings, or impairs his or her judgment and problem-solving ability. Mental Disorders - The majority of all suicide attempters do have such a disorder. - Research suggests that as many as 70 percent of all suicide attempters have been experiencing severe depression, 20 percent chronic alcoholism, and 10 percent schizophrenia. - Severe depression also may play a key role in suicide attempts made by those with serious physical illness. - A number of the people who drink alcohol or use drugs just before a suicide attempt actually have a long history of abusing such substances. - Alternatively, a third factor- psychological pain, for instance, or depression- may cause both substance abuse and suicidal thinking. Modeling: The Contagion of Suicide - It is not unusual for people, particularly teenagers, to try to commit suicide after observing or reading about someone else who has done so. - Either way, one suicidal act apparently serves as a model for another. Family Members and Friends - A recent suicide by a family member or friend increases the likelihood that a person will attempt suicide. - This additional risk factor is often called the social contagion effect. Other Highly Publicized Cases - Suicides with bizarre or unusual aspects often receive intense coverage by the news media. - Some clinicians argue that more responsible reporting could reduce this frightening impact of highly published suicides. Coworkers and Colleagues - The word-of-mouth publicity that attends suicides in a school, workplace, or small community may trigger suicide attempts. What are the underlying causes of suicide? - Theorists have proposed more fundamental explanations for self-destructive actions than the immediate triggers considered in the previous section. The Psychodynamic View - Many psychodynamic theorists believe that suicid
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