View Full Version : Study: Motivation Guides Treatment in Suicide Prevention


APSJ
06-17-13, 05:54 PM
I thought this article, concerning a recent study, was interesting in that it seems to contradict some prevailing ideas on the topic of motivation for suicide:

The study, based on 120 participants who recently attempted suicide, suggests many motivations believed to play important roles in suicide are relatively uncommon. For example, suicide attempts were rarely the result of impulsivity, a cry for help, or an effort to solve a financial or practical problem. Of all motivations for suicide, the two found to be universal in all participants were hopelessness and overwhelming emotional pain. It also questions the idea that there's a standardized approach to follow in helping all people:

"Knowing why someone attempted suicide is crucial - it tells us how to best help them recover," says Prof. David Klonsky, UBC Dept. of Psychology. "This new tool will help us to move beyond the current "one-size-fits-all" approach to suicide prevention, which is essential. Different motivations require different treatments and interventions." http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/261972.php

This seems like a step in the right direction to me, however, the article doesn't say what the differences in treatment are for the different motivations. I'd be really interested in learning the details if someone has the time and means to track down the study.

namazu
06-17-13, 06:13 PM
Here is the abstract for the study (I think):
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23725576

The focus seems to have been primarily on developing a tool to assess motivations, with little explicit discussion in the paper of treatment/prevention.

Still, the tool they've developed could provide helpful information about the different combinations of factors that are related to suicide attempts. That might then allow clinicians to ask better questions to understand suicide risk and tailor treatment to the patient's particular circumstances -- if we make some progress in figuring out what treatments work best in what situations.

APSJ
06-17-13, 06:40 PM
The focus seems to have been primarily on developing a tool to assess motivations, with little explicit discussion in the paper of treatment/prevention.


Ah, so as is often the case, the title of the article about the study didn't actually describe what the study was about...Still interesting though.

Amtram
06-17-13, 08:01 PM
APSJ, this is the state of science journalism in general. It's good to have a few sites bookmarked in addition to PubMed (which probably has only the abstract, which won't give you much more than the article sometimes. . .) Science and Medical bloggers have access to the full text, and a much better perspective than mainstream media or content aggregators. Science Daily has more articles, but the gee-whiz reporting means you have to dig deeper with them. Fortunately, in many cases, they have links to the materials provided by the source, which are a little more fleshed out.

This is a small study by a graduate student, so it's not something with enormous impact, but it's good to see it's being done. Here's (http://news.ubc.ca/2013/06/13/first-major-study-of-suicide-motivations-to-advance-prevention/) the release from the university where the work was conducted. I don't see any comments about it on Neuroskeptic or Neurocritic, but if it's worth covering, one or both of them eventually will.

DcGonzo
06-17-13, 08:19 PM
I haven't read the article but here's my 2 cents based on the OP anyway...

The idea that people kill themselves because of a perceived lack of ability to better their position or "hopelessness" would seem to be the case by definition.

Had a better option been perceived the person would have taken it...

Therefore I don't think a study confirming whether people feel hopeless when they kill themselves is necessary, besides, it is tough to get an explanation after the person has committed suicide.

A more important question might be...

Why in such developed and technologically advanced societies where so many people could be enabled do so many feel hopeless to the extent that they take their own lives?

That would be a far more important question than asking whether or not people who commit suicide felt hopeless or had impulsive tendencies in my view.

APSJ
06-17-13, 09:04 PM
The idea that people kill themselves because of a perceived lack of ability to better their position or "hopelessness" would seem to be the case by definition.

Had a better option been perceived the person would have taken it...

While it does seem obvious on its face, one thing that the article notes, and which I have heard before, is that there's a perception that it's something people do as a "cry for help" or something that's often done on impulse, which the study suggests is not often the case.

meadd823
06-23-13, 01:53 AM
Obviously they couldn't ask people who were successful at committing suicide but they could discuss motivation with those who were not successful -

In contrast, suicide attempts motivated by internal factors - such as hopelessness and unbearable pain - were performed with the greatest desire to die.

As one who has had suicidal idealization at least once in the pat two weeks I can attest to these motivating factors personally - Not scientific evidence I know.