Suicidal behaviour is a grim personality trait that reflects self-destructive mental condition. According to a report published this month in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), asthma is a respiratory disease that provokes suicidal thoughts to the level where a person breaks free from the thoughts to actually attempt suicide.
This is the first study that examines the association between asthma and suicidal thinking with and without attempts using a nationally representative sample of adults, establishing the growing evidence of relationships between respiratory diseases and suicidal behaviour.
Diana E. Clarke, Msc,PHD, The John Hopkins University School of Public Health, Baltimore and colleagues note that it is the first study to investigate the potential role of cigarette use and nicotine dependence in the association of asthma and suicidal behaviour.
The study examined data on 5,692 individuals 18 years and older from the US National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Approximately 12 percent of the sample had a history of asthma. The estimates of lifetime prevalence for suicidal ideation without and with attempts and asthma were 8.7 percent, 4.2 percent and 12.0 percent, respectively, and occurred more frequently in women that men.
Despite adjustments for cigarette smoking, concurrent mental health conditions and common socio demographic factors, a statistically significant association remained between asthma and suicide thoughts and attempts.
Investigators suggest that asthma may be associated with the more severe form of suicidal behaviour where there are not just suicidal thoughts but determined suicidal attempts too.
"Researchers have speculated that the relationship between asthma and suicidal behaviours is possibly because of ensuing mood and anxiety that results from disability and discomfort associated with asthma, which can be a lifelong disease," the authors note.
"Individuals might have frequent thoughts of death with increasing severity solely because they have a potentially life-threatening illness," they add.
Although this was not a clinical study, the findings may indicate the need for referral to mental services if an individual has asthma and expresses suicidal thoughts.