The study shows that those patients who complained of nightmares during the week following the suicide attempt were three times more likely to attempt to take their own life again, regardless of gender or psychiatric diagnosis, such as depression or post-traumatic stress syndrome.
“Those who were still suffering from nightmares after two months faced an even greater risk. These people were five times more likely to attempt suicide a second time,” says author of the thesis, Registered Nurse Nils Sjöström.
Other sleeping difficulties do not increase risk of repeat suicide attempts
It is normal for patients that have attempted suicide to suffer from sleeping difficulties. Some 89 percent of the patients examined reported some kind of sleep disturbance. The most common problems were difficulty initiating sleep, followed by difficulty maintaining sleep, nightmares and early morning awakening. Nils Sjöström has also examined the possibility of there being an increased risk of repeat suicide attempts if the patient has difficulty falling asleep, difficulty sleeping during the night, or wakes up early in the morning. However, the result did not indicate any increased risk.
“The results show how important it is for healthcare staff to highlight the significance of nightmares in the clinical suicide risk assessment,” says Nils Sjöström.
The thesis was written by:
Registered Nurse Nils Sjöström
Associate Professor Margda Waern, tel: +46 (0)31 3422164, e-mail: Margda Waern
Professor Jerker Hetta, tel: +46 (0)8 58586871, e-mail: Jerker Hetta
Thesis for the degree of Doctor of Medicine at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Title of thesis: Sleep, sense of coherence and suicidality in suicide attempters
Link to thesis