Scientific News and Reading Suggestion #29

Our Section member Federico M. Daray shared with us some recent papers published with his research group in Argentina:

  • How lipids may affect risk for suicidal behavior (Journal of Psychiatric Research, 104, 2018)
  • Suicidal ideation is associated with cardiovascular disease in a large, urban cohort of adults in the Southern Cone of Latin America (General Hospital Psychiatry, 57, 2019)
  • Serotonin transporter gene polymorphism as a predictor of short-term risk of suicide reattempts (European Psychiatry, 54, 2018)
  • Factors associated with postpartum depression in women from low socioeconomic level in Argentina: A hierarchical model approach (Journal of Affective Disorders 227, 2017)
  • Lethality of Previous Suicidal Behavior among Patients Hospitalized for Suicide Risk Predicts Lethality of Future Suicide Attempts (Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 2018)

Suicide and suicidal behaviors can be influenced, among the others, by individual risk factors. The role of diet and metabolism is still poorly understood. Daray and coworkers describe in their work a theoretical model linking cholesterol and poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) status to 5-HT neurotrasmission and suicide risk. They also studied the relationships between cardiovascular disease (CVD) and suicidal risk in Southern Cone of Latin America: “There is a significant association between suicidal ideation and CVD, particularly among women, which may be driven, at least in part, by depression and physical functional impairment”.

In the literature there are many other works about metabolic syndrome, its correlates and suicide: for example, in 2013 Chang and coworkers (LINK) published the article “Metabolic Syndrome and the Risk of Suicide: A Community-Based Integrated Screening Samples Cohort Study” reporting that “Metabolic Syndrome was associated with an increased risk of suicide risk by 16% per MetS component, adjusting for demographics, life-style factors, and clinical correlates. Of the metabolic syndrome components, elevated blood pressure was independently associated with suicide-related mortality” (10-year follow-up period, 76.297 people recruited, 12.094 with Metabolic Syndrome, 146 death for suicide).

Maslov and coworkers (2009) (LINK ) investigated these factors in patients affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Schizophrenia while D’Ambrosio et al. (2012) (LINK) in patients with bipolar disorder. It is widely acknowledged that these patients have higher rates of substances abuse, smoking, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (metabolic syndrome) and are at-risk for suicide, so the possible correlation among these variables was investigated.

Public mental health interventions targeting also these individuals factors may be warranted.  

Thanks to F. Daray

Scientific News and Reading Suggestion #28

On March 2019, Lancet Psychiatry published the following article: “Interventions to reduce symptoms of common mental disorders and suicidal ideation in physicians: a systematic review and meta-analysis” (Petrie, K). It deals with a current topic, which is the increased prevalence of common mental disorders (depression, anxiety) and suicide among physicians. The authors identified 2992 articles, of which 8 were included in the systematic review and 7 in the meta-analysis. The results suggest that “physician-directed interventions are associated with small reductions in symptoms of common mental health disorders among physicians” and that “modification of the work environment is urgently needed”.

We proposed the topic of physician and mental health in other reading suggestions in the past year. In September on Jama Psychiatry it was published the article “A Physician’s Suffering – Facing Depression as a Trainee”, which focused on the impact that a physician suicide may have on colleagues; in May 2018 on BMJ it was published the free meta-analysis and systematic review “Psychosocial job stressors and suicidality: a meta-analysis and systematic review”.

As stressed in our previous suggestions, the medical profession is one of the occupations with the highest risk of death by suicide (one physician is estimated to die by suicide each day in the USA) and this is often an “uncomfortable” topic for discussion.

Also our Secretary C. Gramaglia and our member P. Zeppegno published on April 2018 an Opinion on Frontiers in Psychology, edited by our Co-Chair J. L. Castroman titled “Medical Students and Suicide Prevention: Training, Education, and Personal Risks”. The article stresses the importance of a specific training focusing on the risk of depression and suicide risk among medical students and practitioners. The article is open access HERE.

See our previous reading suggestions to know more:


Scientific News and Reading Suggestion #27

On 1st January 2019 on JAMA Psychiatry it was published the article “Risk of Suicide After Cancer Diagnosis in England”. In the literature it is widely acknowledged that a diagnosis of cancer maybe a risk factor for psychological distress, depression, anxiety and suicide: there are many resources that may be used in order to prevent these events, and all clinicians (not only psychiatrists) should quantify the risk of any patients using prevention strategies. In the study published on JAMA, of the 4 722 099 cancer patients enrolled, 2491 patients died by suicide, representing 0.08% of all deaths during the follow-up period.

The article “Incidence of Suicide in Persons With Cancer” published on the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2008 reported that the incidence of suicide in patients with cancer was approximately twice that of the general US population.

Both articles found that suicide risk was different for different types of cancer (highest among patients with mesothelioma, pancreatic, esophageal, lung and stomach cancer) and that it was highest in the first 6 months following cancer diagnosis. Perhaps, lower quality of life in patients with some kind of cancer may be related to emotional distress; others could have a devastating effect on quality of life through their impact on physical appearance and essential functions such as speech, swallowing, and breathing.

Researchers stress that suicide in cancer patients can be considered as a potentially preventable death cause, and that patients may need psychological support during the first 6 months after cancer diagnosis.

Last, cancer diagnosis potentially involves  end-of-life decisions; there are different studies about this topic; for example, the article “End-of-life decision-making across cancer types: results from a nationwide retrospective survey among treating physicians”, published on the British Journal of Cancer in 2018. This study was about a large random sample of all deaths in Flanders and Belgium in which all cancer deaths were selected (n = 2392): euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide were chosen in 8.7-12.6% of the cases, independent of cancer types.


Scientific News and Reading Suggestion #26

Does psychopathology vary due to the influence of Christmas holidays? Since we are approaching Christmas and the arrival of the new year, the question is timely. We found an article published on Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience in 2011, “The Christmas Effect on Psychopathology” (Sansone et al), which offers an overview of the literature about this topic. The article reports about different issues in the field of mental health, such as access to emergency room services on behalf of psychiatric patients, depressive symptoms, substance abuse and also self-harm behaviors, suicide attempts and suicide. The Authors report that according to the literature, deliberate self-harm decreases around Christmas holidays, in particular in younger patients; suicide attempts rate decreases during Christmas period, but some studies reports that it may increases during the New Year holiday.

On Psychology Today, it is suggested a correlation between the reduction of these events and a protective effect exerted by the proximity of relatives and the hope of ‘things getting better from here’.

A previous reading suggestion (#17, March 2018) was about a recent publication by our member Christina Van der Feltz-Cornelis on Frontiers in Psychiatry, “Springtime Peaks and Christmas Troughs: A National Longitudinal Population-Based Study into Suicide Incidence Time Trends in the Netherlands” in which it is stressed that suicide incidence was 42% lower at Christmas, compared to the December-average (IRR = 0.580, p < 0.001), but after Christmas, a substantial increase occurred on January 1, which remained high during the first weeks of the new year.



Scientific News and Reading Suggestion #25

November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The website of the United Nations, in a dedicated page, describes violence against women as “one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world”, which still “remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it” (LINK). Violence may be physical, sexual but also psychological. Consequences of all these types of violence against women may result in short- and long- term physical, psychological, and sexual problems (LINK).

In the manual “Preventing intimate partner and sexual violence against women: taking action and generating evidence” (LINK), the WHO stresses the role possibly played by a history of sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence on increased health risks and health-risk behaviours in both males and females. A meta-analysis of the prevalence of child sexual abuse and its lifetime health consequences showed that child sexual abuse significantly contributes  to depression, alcohol and drug use and dependence, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide attempts.

The possible correlation between violence against women and suicide is addressed by websites such as (LINK): the website reports  that about 33% of rape victims may show suicidal thoughts, while 13% make a suicide attempt or eventually die by suicide, and suggests a relationship between these events and the violence-related long-term emotional consequences, depressive symptoms and stigma. Many women may feel trapped and powerless, and may find it difficult to ask for help, for example because they may feel embarrassed to talk about their experiences, and may believe that suicide is the only way out. Many children living in households where domestic violence occurs may attempt suicide (LINK)

The Rape Crisis Scotland published an interesting manual named “ Suicidal thoughts/feelings. Information for survivors of sexual violence” with many self-care tips for survivors (LINK). 

To know more, contact EPA- SSSP e-mail address:

“Domestic violence is always wrong, and it is a crime.
And there is never an excuse for domestic violence.


Scientific News and Reading Suggestion #24

The 10th October is the World Mental Health Day, whose objective is raising awareness on mental health issues, trying to promote and supporting people who suffer from mental illnesses, but also mental health workers.  The main theme this year is:


Adolescence and the immediately following years are characterized by several changes and challenges, which can represent a powerful motivation towards growth, as well as a source of discomfort and worries. A further complication for adolescence is represented by the constant confrontation with peers, the adult world and the showcase of social networks.

The WHO has published on its website this statement about the World Mental Health Day: “in terms of the burden of the disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds”.  Loneliness and sadness may be the first signs of a distress that can eventually lead to greater discomforts. Contrarily to what is usually believed, most suicides do not happen without warning, and it is important to be aware of risk factors and warning signs. Recently, attention has been paid also to those personal and social resources that may play the role of protecting factors for the individual, including  resilience and coping strategies to face the challenges of today’s world.

The “WHO’s Preventing suicide: a community engagement toolkit” (click HEREhas been published on  September 10th, 2018. This toolkit stresses the role of communities in suicide prevention: “They can provide support to people who are vulnerable and to those who have made an attempt on their life. They can provide comfort to people who have lost someone to suicide and can also help fight stigma”.


To know more, contact EPA- SSSP e-mail address:

Scientific News and Reading Suggestions #23

Our member Erminia Colucci suggests her latest publication about suicide:

Suicide first aid guidelines for assisting persons from
immigrant or refugee background:
a Delphi study

Here her comment about it:

This article is part of a series of projects by the authors aimed to develop a community-based tool to help members of the public to recognise potential warning signs for suicide and practical advice about how to respond (and what not to do) if someone close to them was considering taking their own life. The guidelines  specific for assisting persons from immigrant or refugee background were developed using an expert-consensus method (Delphi) with panel of professional and/or lived-experience experts. The article provides a list of the items included as well as links to the free resources developed from this project, i.e. the complete printable Suicide First Aid guidelines and the shorter infographic (available also on ). Members of this mailing list are invited to distribute the article as well as the free resources to anyone who is likely to encounter people from immigrant or refugee background at risk for suicide. The authors are now looking for opportunities to also develop training based on these guidelines (train the trainer style) and members are encourage to contact the first author Dr Erminia Colucci ( if interested”.

Looking forward to sharing with you
the next scientific news and reading suggestions!

To know more, contact EPA- SSSP e-mail address:

Thanks to Erminia Colucci

Scientific News and Reading Suggestions #22

Some jobs are highly related to occupation-associated suicide; in particular, physicians have a suicide rate which is twice that of the general population. Recently, on Jama Psychiatry, it has been published the article “A Physician’s Suffering – Facing Depression as a Trainee”, which focuses on the impact that a physician suicide may have on colleagues. It describes the experience of a physician who was in training when he learnt about a colleague’s suicide, his feelings and the problems he experienced during the training period, that lead him to think about suicide himself. After a period when he was afraid to ask for help because of the stigmatization of psychiatric problems, he then decided to disclose his condition to his primary care physicians and eventually to a psychiatrist and a therapist who helped him overcome his crisis, accomplish his projects, becoming a doctor and helping his patients.

LINK: A Physician’s Suffering – Facing Depression as a Trainee

Farrell CM. A Physician’s Suffering—Facing Depression as a Trainee. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(6):749–750. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.1520

Looking forward to sharing with you
the next scientific news and reading suggestions!

To know more, contact EPA- SSSP e-mail address:

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