oa South African Family Practice - Unmasking depression in persons attempting suicide : research
Background : Suicidal behaviour is highly prevalent and increasing at an alarming rate among all socio-demographic groupings in South Africa. Approximately 9.5% of all unnatural deaths in young people in South Africa are due to suicide. The ratio of non-fatal suicide attempts to attempts with fatal outcomes varies between 20:1 and 40:1 depending on the geographical region and the community composition being studied. Although depression is a common co-existing finding in many studies involving patients with suicidal behaviour, current evidence suggests that it is either not detected or it is inappropriately managed in clinical practice.
Aim : This study compared self-reported perceived and objectively assessed personal physical and mental well-being of adults attempting suicide and being admitted to two local community-based public hospitals in South Africa.
Method : Validated questionnaires were used to elicit relevant data from 688 adults attempting suicide and being admitted to two community-based public hospitals in Durban which was analysed using SPSS®.
Results : The majority of participants were female, single, younger age group, unemployed, low education and low income level. Only 30.3% of participants reported long-standing illnesses lasting more than 6 months. The majority perceived their physical and mental health to be normal. However, an objective assessment revealed a large number of participants to be suffering from varying levels of depression.
Conclusion : The study population comprised mainly the younger age group in both sexes, and showed that depression is an important co-morbid risk factor in suicidal behaviour in this and other groups. This finding cannot be ignored, and the authors endorse the call for a scaling up of screening strategies to diagnose depression, and for an improved prevention and management framework.
Article metrics loading...