July 3, 2018 – Stress and Suicide


Anchor lead: Just how big a factor is stress in our current suicide epidemic? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Depression and anxiety are well known risk factors for suicide, but how about stress? Karen Swartz, a psychiatrist and depression expert at Johns Hopkins, says the relentless pace of modern life coupled with the influence of things like social media can translate into a toxic mix.

Swartz: We don’t quite understand how stress translates into brain chemistry changes or changes in other parts of the body that are influencing how our emotions work, but it seems evident that if you’re living a very, very stressful life that it’s problematic. A simple example. Sleep deprivation is very destabilizing for mood and worsens anxiety. We as a society do not sleep enough and we’re trying to pack more into a day and so something that’s simple you can see how that could be one building block contributing to things getting worse. :32

Swartz says stress may be a more prominent risk factor in middle aged and younger people, in whom suicide rates are rising. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.