A new Canadian study finds that early detection of mental health issues and better exchange of health information can reduce youth suicides.
Scientists from the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University studied 67 suicide completers ages 25 and under and matched them with 56 living control subjects.
Suicide is the second- and third-leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 15 — 34 in Canada and the U.S., respectively. And 90 percent of people who die by suicide suffer from a mental illness.
As reported in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, researchers found that more lives could be saved with improved care.
Early detection of mental illness, increased public awareness, and better information sharing among professionals and the public can save many lives, say the researchers.
In the study, researchers evaluated participant’s psychopathological profile and then conducted a needs assessment to determine which services would have been appropriate. The team then compared these needs with what services were actually received.
The results of this study show that a majority of suicide victims had suffered from mental health problems. They were more likely than control subjects to be in need of services to address underlying substance use disorder, depression, and other suicide-related problems.
The study also identified significant deficits with respect to training of professionals, coordination of services, and continuity of care.
“It is imperative to better train the public, via awareness campaigns, for instance. We must also better identify, treat, and coordinate services for youth at risk,” said Johanne Renaud, M.D., M.Sc.