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Mental Retardation

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Research articles:

Berman, A. (1992). Treating suicidal behavior in the mentally retarded: The case of Kim. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, 22, 504-506. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Kaminer, Y., Feinstein, C., & Barrett, R. (1987). Suicidal behavior in mentally retarded adolescents: An overlooked problem. Child Psychiatry And Human Development, 18(2), 90-94. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Lunsky, Y. Y. (2004). Suicidality in a clinical and community sample of adults with mental retardation. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 25(3), 231-243. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2003.06.004

This paper will argue that suicidal ideation and suicidal gestures are evident in adults with mental retardation, including individuals not receiving mental health services currently, and that psychosocial correlates of suicidality are similar to those noted in the general population. Findings are based on structured interviews with 98 adults with mental retardation, with corroborative information from caregivers and clinical charts. One in three individuals reported that they think “life is not worth living” sometimes or a lot. Eleven percent of individuals reported previous suicide attempt(s). Twenty-three percent of informants were unaware of the current suicidal ideation that their family member/client was reporting. Individuals reporting suicidal ideation endorsed more loneliness, stress, anxiety and depression, along with less social support than other individuals, consistent with reports of suicidal individuals in the general population. Adults with mental retardation who report thinking that life is not worth living should be a target group for future suicide prevention efforts. More research is needed to better understand the risk factors and protective factors for suicidality in this population. [Copyright &y& Elsevier]

Menolascino, F. J., Lazer, J., & Stark, J. A. (1989). Diagnosis and management of depression and suicidal behavior in persons with severe mental retardation. Journal of the Multihandicapped Person, 2(2), 89-103. doi:10.1007/BF01098948

Analyzed the incidence of suicidal ideations, gestures, and attempts in 8 persons (aged 19–48 yrs) with mental retardation who exhibited severe depression and suicidal behavior. A 5-yr follow-up assessed clinical status of the Ss and identified later suicidal ideations or attempts. Five Ss exhibited severe adjustment reactions with allied features of depression, 2 Ss were diagnosed as having an episode of depression, and 1 S had bipolar disorder at follow-up. Professional challenges in working with these Ss were (1) diagnosing the underlying psychiatric disorders, (2) providing active treatment, and (3) reintegrating the S into community life. In all cases, the co-existing mental retardation excerbated the mental illness. Case vignettes of the 8 Ss are presented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

Patja, K., Iivanainen, M., Raitasuo, S., & Lönnqvist, J. (2001). Suicide mortality in mental retardation: A 35-year follow-up study. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 103(4), 307-311. doi:10.1034/j.1600-0447.2001.00019.x

Objective: We investigated suicide mortality among people with mental retardation (MR) over a period of 35 years. Method: The nationwide, population-based cohort of 2369 people with MR was followed-up from a representative sample of 9.4% of the population in Finland in 1962. The standardized mortality ratio of suicides was calculated and case studies of all MR suicides based on all available data were performed. Results: Women with MR had an equal suicide risk to Finnish women in general, while men had only one-third of the population risk. Risk factors for suicide were similar to those in the general population. Most suicide victims had mild MR and were hospitalized for comorbid mental disorders. Suicide methods were passive and alcohol was involved in only one case. Conclusion: Suicide mortality in MR is significantly lowered among males. Suicide prevention in MR should be focused on people with comorbid mental disorders. Problems in adjustment to new circumstances need to be recognized. Appropriate and adequate treatment of comorbid depression is emphasized. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Walters, A. S., Barrett, R. P., Knapp, L. G., & Borden, M. (1995). Suicidal behavior in children and adolescents with mental retardation. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 16(2), 85-96. doi:10.1016/0891-4222(94)00029-8

Investigated the existence of suicidal behavior among 90 consecutive admissions to a specialty unit for dually diagnosed children and adolescents in a psychiatric hospital. Archival chart review yielded a total of 19 patients (mean age 15.8 yrs) for whom suicidal behavior was a presenting complaint upon admission or during hospitalization. Suicidal events were confined to Ss at or above the moderate mental retardation range and were more common among adolescents than among children. Characteristics of suicidality in this sample were similar to those in developmentally intact children and adolescents, ranging from ideation to threats to behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

Walters, R. M. (1990). Suicidal behaviour in severely mentally handicapped patients. British Journal of Psychiatry, 157, 444-446. doi:10.1192/bjp.157.3.444

Presents case reports of 4 patients (aged 10–28 yrs when admitted to hospital) with IQs below 50 who displayed suicidal behavior. The cases refute the notion that the severely mentally handicapped are unable to form such an intention and demonstrate that the Ss were able to appreciate that the outcome of the behavior could cause death. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)

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