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News

Smoking related to suicide attempts in teens with psychiatric illnesses

Yale University : 30 March, 2004  (Company News)
The study in this month's Journal of Adolescent Health included 157 girls and boys, 12-17 years, admitted to a hospital in Finland for psychiatric illnesses. Researchers found that adolescents who smoked were four times as likely to attempt suicide as those who did not smoke. Adolescents who smoked also were at three times greater risk for occasional and frequent self-mutilation.
Daily smoking is strongly related to suicide attempts and self-mutilation among teens hospitalized for psychiatric illnesses, according to a study done in collaboration with a Yale researcher.

The study in this month's Journal of Adolescent Health included 157 girls and boys, 12-17 years, admitted to a hospital in Finland for psychiatric illnesses. Researchers found that adolescents who smoked were four times as likely to attempt suicide as those who did not smoke. Adolescents who smoked also were at three times greater risk for occasional and frequent self-mutilation.

The researchers, including Jaakko Lappalainen, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, said one hypothesis is that some teenagers who smoke have slightly impaired brain function leading to more impulsive and aggressive behavior. But the researchers said the actual reason for the relationship between smoking, suicide attempts, and self-mutilation has not been pinpointed.

'Regular smoking among adolescent psychiatric patients is associated with increased adolescent suicidality and, therefore, easy to notice,' he said. 'Paying attention to smoking may facilitate identification of those adolescents who are at risk for suicide, which may help them to receive professional help in time.'

'It is tempting to speculate that adolescents who smoke may be attempting to 'self-medicate' their feelings of depression, anxiety, and impulsivity,' Lappalainen said. 'But, to our understanding, no conclusive evidence has been presented suggesting that smoking would cause suicide attempts and self-mutilation.'

Lappalainen said smoking in adolescence may be one among other health-risk behaviors or factors in suicide attempts, such as substance abuse and family dysfunction.
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