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Suicidality following a natural disaster

Nilamadhab Kar, MD, DPM, DNB, MRCPsych

Abstract


Objectives: It was intended to study the suicidal cognitions and behaviors following a super-cyclone.
Design: Cross-sectional evaluation study.
Setting: Community.
Participants: Using simple random procedure, 12 months after a super-cyclone, 540 victims were selected.
Main outcome measures: Suicidal cognitions and behaviors through the Suicidality Screening Questionnaire. This included items on whether life was worth living, death wishes, suicidal idea, plan, and attempt, and history of a suicide attempt. Self- Reporting Questionnaire was used to screen for possible psychiatric morbidity. The influence of various sociodemographic factors, degree of exposure, and clinical variables on suicidal cognitions and attempt was studied.
Results: A considerable number of victims had suicidal cognitions: death wishes (66.4 percent), suicidal ideas (38.0 percent), and suicidal plans (18.3 percent). Sixty-eight persons (12.6 percent) of the sample had made suicide attempts after the cyclone.The risk of a suicide attempt was high in persons with current psychiatric morbidity, past history of psychiatric illness, postcyclone thoughts of life not worth living, suicidal ideation and plans, and living with inadequate support.
Conclusions: There was a reported increase of suicidal cognitions and attempts within 12 months following a natural disaster. Awareness of increased suicidality, attention to associated risk factors, and support regarding these may help in the prevention of suicide following disasters.


Keywords


attempted suicide, natural disaster, prevention, risk factor, suicide

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/ajdm.2010.0042

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