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Nightmares May Increase Risk of Suicide

A new study concludes that people who have nightmares following a suicide attempt are five times more likely to attempt suicide again.

The study included 165 patients aged 18-69 years, who were being treated at somatic and psychiatric departments following a suicide attempt in Sweden.

Psychiatric interviews and self-assessments were carried out as part of the study during the week following the suicide attempt, and then two months later. Ninety-eight people attended the follow-up interview.

The study shows that those patients who complained of nightmares during the week following the suicide attempt were three times more likely to attempt to take their own life again, regardless of gender or psychiatric diagnosis, such as depression or post-traumatic stress syndrome.

“Those who were still suffering from nightmares after two months faced an even greater risk. These people were five times more likely to attempt suicide a second time,” says author of the thesis, Registered Nurse Nils Sjostrom.

Other sleeping difficulties do not increase risk of repeat suicide attempts

It is normal for patients that have attempted suicide to suffer from sleeping difficulties. Some 89 percent of the patients examined reported some kind of sleep disturbance. The most common problems were difficulty initiating sleep, followed by difficulty maintaining sleep, nightmares and early morning awakening.

Nils Sjostrom has also examined the possibility of there being an increased risk of repeat suicide attempts if the patient has difficulty falling asleep, difficulty sleeping during the night, or wakes up early in the morning. However, the result did not indicate any increased risk.

“The results show how important it is for healthcare staff to highlight the significance of nightmares in the clinical suicide risk assessment,” says Nils Sjostrom.

Source: University of Gothenburg

Nightmares May Increase Risk of Suicide

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Nightmares May Increase Risk of Suicide. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 15, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/02/04/nightmares-may-increase-risk-of-suicide/3903.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.