Suicide A Leading Cause Of Death Among Pregnant And Recently Pregnant Women

HealthDay (8/28, Dotinga) reports, “Suicide is a leading cause of death among pregnant and recently pregnant women,” researchers found after tracking “women in Ontario from 1994 to 2008.” The study revealed that “five percent of deaths during pregnancy or the first year after pregnancy were due to suicide.” The findings were published online Aug. 28 in CMAJ.

Medscape (8/28, Frellick) points out the study’s findings indicate that “suicide prevention strategies for perinatal women should be incorporated into primary care settings.”

Related Links:

— “Suicide a Danger for Some Women During Pregnancy: Study,” Randy Dotinga, HealthDay, August 28, 2017.

Death Of Inmate With Schizophrenia Raises Questions About How California Jails Handle Mental Illnesses

In a greater than 1,700-word story, the Los Angeles Times (8/24, St. John) chronicles the story of Andrew Holland, an inmate with schizophrenia at the San Luis Obispo County jail. The man was “shackled to a chair” at the jail for “46 hours” during which he was naked, “left in his own filth,” and “eating and drinking almost nothing.” Within 40 minutes of being freed from the chair, he died. That death, which occurred on Jan. 22, “has provoked outrage in the Central Coast county, a record $5-million legal settlement, and questions about the way California jails handle a sharp increase in the number of” inmates with mental illnesses.

Related Links:

— “Naked, filthy and strapped to a chair for 46 hours: a mentally ill inmate’s last days,” Paige St. John, Los Angeles Times, August 24, 2017.

Cigarettes With Lower Nicotine Content May Decrease Addiction Potential

Healio (8/24, Oldt) reports, “Cigarettes with lower nicotine content may decrease addiction potential among individuals highly vulnerable to tobacco addiction,” researchers found after conducting “a multisite, double-blind, within-participant assessment of acute response to research cigarettes among 169 daily smokers.” The findings were published online Aug. 23 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Related Links:

— “Lower nicotine cigarettes may hinder addiction in at-risk groups,” Higgins ST, et al., Healio, August 24, 2017.

Google To Help People Determine If They Are Suffering From Clinical Depression

The Washington Times (8/24, Kelly) reports that on Aug. 24, tech giant “Google entered the realm of public health awareness to help people determine if they are clinically depressed, launching a questionnaire…in response to the query: Am I depressed?” Individuals typing “in a search term related to depression will now be given the option to take the PHQ-9 questionnaire, a clinically validated assessment, in addition to the most relevant information pertaining to depression.”

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (8/24, Pirani), the PHQ-9 “test aims to help determine a person’s depression and his or her need for an in-person medical evaluation.”

Newsweek (8/24, Firger) points out, “Roughly 6.7 percent of the US population reported having at least one symptom of depression in 2015, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).”

Related Links:

— “Are you depressed? Google it,” Laura Kelly, Washington Times, August 24, 2017.

Suicide Attempts More Common In Both Cyberbullied, Cyberbulliers

HealthDay (8/23, Dotinga) reports researchers found children and young adults targeted by cyberbullies appear to be twice as likely to hurt themselves or attempt suicide than their non-bullied peers. Investigators said cyberbullies also are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and take suicidal actions. Included in the study were some “150,000 kids and young adults from 30 countries” who were followed “for over 21 years.” The findings were announced in a news release from the UK’s University of Birmingham.

Related Links:

— “Cyberbullying Weighs Heavily on Young People,” Randy Dotinga, HealthDay, August 23, 2017.

Hospitals Provide Insufficient Interventions For Opioid Overdose Survivors

In its “Shots” blog, NPR (8/22, Hsu) reports that in cases of non-fatal overdoses, not enough is being done “during hospital encounters” to intervene in patients’ opioid addictions, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study found that “among people who had overdosed on heroin, the filling of opioid prescriptions fell by 3.5 percent, while medication-assisted treatment increased by only 3.6 percent,” following their hospitalizations.

HealthDay (8/22, Reinberg) reports that the study covered “more than 6,000 people who survived an overdose from an opioid.” The study’s lead author, Julie Donahue, said, “Forty percent of those with a heroin overdose and 60 percent of those with a prescription opioid overdose filled a prescription in the six months after overdose for the very kind of medication that contributed to the overdose in the first place.”

Related Links:

— “Hospitals Could Do More For Survivors Of Opioid Overdoses, Study Suggests,” Andrea Hsu, NPR, August 22, 2017.

Playing Contact Sports May Change Brain’s Structure, Functioning

HealthDay (8/22, Reinberg) reports new research found playing contact sports like football or ice hockey can change the structure and function of the brain. After scanning the brains of 65 varsity athletes prior to the start of their sport’s season, researchers found that the 23 people who played collision and contact sports “had differences in brain structure and function compared to people who took part in non-contact sports.” Differences include “changes in the structure of the brain’s white matter, the fibers that connect different parts of the brain, allowing them to communicate with each another.” The findings were published online in Frontiers of Neurology.

Related Links:

— “More Evidence Contact Sports Can Affect the Brain,” Steven Reinberg, HealthDay, August 22, 2017.

Study Examines Cost Of Care For Senior Family Members With And Without Dementia.

HealthDay (8/22, Mozes) reports, “Caring for a family member with a neurological disorder such as dementia is vastly more expensive than caring for a senior who is dementia-free,” researchers found after examining data “from a computer analysis that modeled expenses incurred caring for about 16,000 hypothetical seniors.”

The study revealed that “the average yearly cost of caring for a dementia-free senior is roughly $137,000,” compared to “$321,000 for care of those struggling with dementia.” The findings were published online Aug. 17 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Related Links:

— “Dementia Care: A Huge Financial Burden for U.S. Families,” Alan Mozes, HealthDay, August 22, 2017.

Investigation Analyzes Role Of Police Tasers In Fatal Encounters

In a 4,700-word piece, Reuters (8/22, Eisler, Szep, Reid, Smith) reports on the number of cases in which a police officer using a Taser results in an unintended death and the litigation that follows.

A Reuters examination of 1,005 fatal police Taser incidents found that a quarter of the victims “were suffering from a mental health breakdown or neurological disorder.” In 90 percent of the incidents, the deceased was unarmed. Over 100 of the fatal encounters began with a 911 call for help during a medical emergency.

Denise Juliano-Bult, who helps coordinate research on services for people with mental illness at the US National Institute of Mental Health, explained people in a mental crisis are often confused and frightened when confronted by police, which may cause tensions to escalate rapidly. She said, “That can lead to unfortunate incidents where the people with mental illness can get injured and the police can get injured.”

Related Links:

— “Special Report: A 911 plea for help, a Taser shot and the toll of stun guns,” Peter Eisler, Jason Szep, Tim Reid and Grant Smith, Reuters via St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 22, 2017.

Older Adults With Current Suicidal Ideation Or Attempt May Be Less Likely To Receive Referral Resources

Healio (8/22, Oldt) reports that just 42 percent of “older adults who screened positively for suicidal ideation and were discharged received a mental health evaluation during their visit” to the emergency department, researchers found. In fact, “older adults with current suicidal ideation or attempt were less likely to receive referral resources, compared with younger adults with current suicidal ideation or attempt (34% vs. 60%).” The findings were published online July 28 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The abstract notes that “a total of 800 charts were reviewed” by investigators.

Related Links:

— “Suicide follow-up severely lacking in older adults,” Arias SA, et al., Healio, August 22, 2017.