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WPA: Chronic Sleep Problems May Increase Suicide Risk

Two or more sleep problems more than doubles risk of attempted suicide, study suggests

FRIDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic sleep problems in adults are associated with a higher risk of suicidal behavior, according to a study presented at the World Psychiatric Association International Congress, "Treatments in Psychiatry," held April 1 to 4 in Florence, Italy.

Marcin Wojnar, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues analyzed data from a nationally representative survey of 5,692 Americans, of whom approximately 35 percent reported one or more of three sleep disturbances in the preceding year: difficulty initiating sleep, sleep maintenance and early morning waking. They studied the subjects' thoughts of suicide, as well as suicide plans and attempts.

Any one of the three sleep disorders increased the risk of suicidal ideas by 2.1 times versus the absence of all three sleep problems, and increased the risk of planning and attempting suicide by 2.6 times and 2.5 times, respectively, the researchers report. Attempted suicide was most strongly associated with difficulty maintaining sleep, increasing the risk threefold, and with early morning awakening, raising the odds 2.7 times, the investigators found.

"Identifying those at high risk of suicide is important for preventing it and these findings indicate that insomnia may be a modifiable risk factor for suicide in the general population," Wojnar said in a statement. "This has implications for public health as the presence of sleep problems should alert doctors to assess such patients for a heightened risk of suicide even if they don't have a psychiatric condition."

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