Research — 11 August 2014

Psychotic experiences of teens are a warning that indicates the risk of self-harm or suicide attempts, a new study reveals.

Researchers at the University of Queensland conducted a study on psychosis in young people and found that adolescents who’ve had psychotic experiences were nearly 13  times more likely to attempt suicide and 11 times more likely to self-harm.

The finding is based on the analysis of 1975 Australians of age 12-17 years who were followed for a period of 12 months, focusing more on psychotic experiences and physiological distress like depression and anxiety.bigstock_depression_18400418

“Psychotic experiences and psychological distress should serve as warning signs that a young person is at high risk of self-harm or attempting suicide.  We would encourage health practitioners to ask young people about psychotic symptoms such as hearing voices or feeling paranoid when they are assessing their mental health and the likelihood of self-harm,” said UQ Center for Clinical Research’s Associate Professor James Scott.

This is the first study that examines whether or not psychotic experiences, psychological distress or both trigger self-harm and suicide attempts in teenagers. The researchers estimate that 1 in every 12 adolescents have psychotic symptoms or odd or unusual belief like paranoid thought or hallucinations. The symptoms are more common than previously thought.

One of the leading causes of death among Australians is suicide and 1 in every 7 people commit non-suicidal self-harm. Hence the researchers found that it is necessary to address these issues.

They noticed that those with psychological distress and no psychotic experiences were three times more likely to cause self-harm over the following 12 months and five times more likely to attempt suicide.

This article first appeared on ‘Science World Report’ on 9 August 2014.


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