Suicide bids before age 24 linked to later problems

People who attempt suicide in their youth are more likely to develop physical as well as mental health problems later in life, new research from the Dunedin longitudinal study shows.

Study co-author Dr Shyamala Nada-Raja, of the University of Otago preventive and social medicine department, said the research was the first to demonstrate the link with physical health problems in a population-based study.

''It's not just mental health issues, but physical health issues, as well as social issues [that] are quite negative for this group right into adulthood.''

The study looked at people who had attempted to commit suicide before having reached the age of 24.

Of the 1037 participants, 91 had attempted to commit suicide. In their 30s this group was twice as likely as their peers to develop metabolic syndrome and had higher levels of systemic inflammation, indicating a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

They suffered more psychiatric problems, were likely to be worse off financially, and were more at risk of domestic violence.

Participants in the Dunedin study were born between 1972 and 1973.

Dr Nada-Raja said the findings could lead to greater recognition that the consequences of attempted suicide were wider than mental health issues.

The study was led by University of North Carolina researcher Sigra Goldman-Mellor, and was published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Psychiatry).



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