Scientists look at new ways to prevent suicide

Scientists have made progress in their research on predicting an event of suicide, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Researchers are hunting for so-called biomarkers, such as patterns of brain activity on fMRI scans or levels of stress hormones in the blood, linked to suicidal thoughts and acts,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

FMRI is a study that uses blood flow in the brain to detect its activity, according to the Pysch Central website.

They also look at sleep patterns and measure the responses to specialized computer tasks meant to reveal unconscious biases related to self-harm, according to The Wall Street Journal. This may help them to predict, and thus prevent, an act of suicide.

Gwenaelle Couliard, a marriage and family therapist in the BYU-Idaho Counseling Center, said there are things that can help students to relieve stress.

“You may not be able to eliminate a church calling, but is there something you can do to simplify it?” Couliard said.

Couliard said it is helpful to eliminate or simplify extra stressors.

“Do the priorities, and forget the fluff,” Couliard said. “What can I just cut out?”

Couliard said another helpful strategy is changing one’s attitude and looking for the value in the challenge. She said an example would be facing the stress of homework by remembering the ultimate goal of graduation.

“The basic things are eat, sleep, exercise, add some time management boundaries and recreate,” Couliard said.

Couliard said roommates can play an important role.

“There’s a difference between nudging and nagging,” Couliard said. “Nudging is an invitation and being a good example and being encouraging. Nagging is demanding change, being so attached to the outcome that, as a helper, you become very disappointed and angry or upset because your roommate is not taking your advice.”

She said it is important not to be attached to the end result but to focus on planting seeds.

“If they take the invitation, hooray,” Couliard said. “If they don’t take the invitation, that’s okay. You can still love them.”

Couliard said that if a situation is more out of control, intervention needs to be at a different level. She said it would be helpful to seek help from people like a housing manager.

“But most of the time, it’s a matter of being encouraging and loving people and being a good example,” Couliard said. “Humor also goes along way.”

They study showed that while depression is commonly associated with suicide, other cases of mental illness should not be overlooked, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Recent research has shown that it is other mental illnesses, like anxiety disorders, problems with impulse control and addiction, that are actually more strongly linked to suicide attempts,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Sarah Klaich, a freshman studying English, said she was diagnosed with autism during her senior year of high school.

“We had no idea what was wrong with me,” Klaich said.

Klaich said she could not understand why she could not participate in the social activities her peers did. She said it was a big struggle for her.

“It could help if they knew beforehand,” said Jessica Munson, a junior studying elementary education.

Munson said her family knows victims of suicide. She said that while scientists’ discoveries may lower the rates of suicide, it likely would not end it entirely.

The methods of predicting suicide attempts have only begun and are still developing, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“No approach is likely to identify everyone at risk, but the hope is that better prediction could give doctors and families time to get vulnerable patients into treatment, tweak medications or even secure a pre-emptive hospital admission,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “Researchers are also working on new treatments to better target suicidal thoughts and behavior.”

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