A Danish study revealed on Wednesday a cause-and-effect link between infections and suicide. The findings were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
Danish researchers found a biological reason to explain statistics showing that those who have been hospitalized for severe infections were more likely to commit suicide in front of those who have not.
In the study, which used over 7 million people to be conducted, researchers discovered that people hospitalized for infections are at high risk of dying by suicide. Results showed that among patients who have suffered from any serious diseases (hepatitis or HIV) have 42 percent of possibilities to die of suicide, unlike patients where it was not registered infections in their medical report.
The team of researchers used Denmark’s system of national registries to compare data containing more that 7 million Denmark’s residents who lived in the country between 1980 and 2011.
After assessing data, researchers found out that among subjects, there were about 800,000 inhabitants (11 percent) that were hospitalized during 1980 and 2011 for an infection (including HIV, hepatitis, or any infection of the digestive system, blood, skin or lungs). Researchers also analyzed death certificates to reach the conclusion that there were nearly 32,700 individuals who died from suicide, and almost one-quarter of them (24.1 percent) had had any of the infections mentioned above during the study’s period. Pregnancy-related infections were the only exception in the examined data.
In cases reporting more than one infection, or with long treatment courses to heal the infection, the higher risks of committing suicide. There was about 10 percent of deaths by suicide that could be attributed to severe infections.
Researchers concluded, likewise, that patients hospitalized for HIV and hepatitis were at the highest risk of ending with their lives. They explained that the biological reason supported by the study’s results lies on a direct cause of infection and the human brain. According to scientists, infections cause inflammations in the brain that might lead to sensations associated with suicidal thoughts.
Biological link between infections and suicide risks
According to the study’s lead researcher, Helene Lund-Sorensen, B.M., from the Mental Health Center Copenhagen, in Denmark, many potential mechanisms could link human body’s infections to deaths by suicide. Lund-Sorensen remarked that her team tried to reach conclusions as accurate as possible during the research. Her team evaluated not only suicidal statistics linked to infections, but also they looked for additional health conditions (low economic status, substance abuse or depression) that might have made individuals commit suicide. Still, it was found out a significant statistical link between infections and increased suicide risk.
Further on, Dr. Lena Brundin, an associate professor at the Van Andel Research Institute’s Center for Neurodegenerative Science in Grand Rapids, Michigan, stated that scientific community has found out using previous studies that brain’s inflammation can cause depression symptoms.
As per Brundin, individuals who contract serious infections present later brain’s inflammation that can lead to depression symptoms, one of the leading psychiatric disorders that cause suicide thoughts on patients. Brundin also stated that this biological link had been found out in humans as well as animals by previous researchers. However, further studies need to be conducted formally to state a cause-and-effect link between infections and suicide.
Source: Tech Times