Correlation Between Insomnia & Suicide

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Photographer: Jayne Wilkinson

It’s been almost four years since losing my youngest daughter to suicide.  I’ve had many sleepless nights to reflect upon the “what ifs”.  Since that day, I have been an avid student, wanting to learn all I can about suicide, depression, anxiety, and mental illness.  I’ve researched Psychology textbooks, read different books on the subject, watched television programs, and talked to many survivors who have gone through losing a loved one to suicide. All this, to better understand it and why they do it. 

I was and still am determined to find a common link to suicide.  Studies have shown that sleeplessness desensitizes our brain receptors of an important hormone called serotonin.  Serotonin regulates mood, learning, and memory, just to name a few.  The lack of this hormone may be detrimental to someone suffering with mental illness. 

Subsequently, insomnia is a symptom of hyperarousal.  A person is on overdrive with their thinking process, preventing them to fall asleep and/or stay asleep.  It is not a broken sleeping pattern, but simply an overactive mind.

Nightmares are another condition research has found to be associated with suicide.  Insomnia is a condition where a person has a hard time sleeping, and now you add a nightmare onto it.  They finally fall asleep and then nightmares take over.  Not only are they suffering with negative thoughts during the day, but now when they do fall asleep, they have nightmares, making their waking hours a struggle, as well as their sleeping hours.  No wonder they have a hard time sleeping, besides the fact they are now exhausted.  We have all had a sleepless night here or there, but could you imagine not being able to get a good night sleep for days, weeks, or months?  Without proper sleep we may feel anxious, overwhelmed, agitated, hopeless, or desperate, feeding into the suicidal ideations. 

It is my belief, that knowing this bit of information may be helpful to those suffering with insomnia, as well as mental health advocates, in the hopes to finding a way to conquer insomnia.  Perhaps this may be the link to help those suffering with suicidal ideations and thoughts, saving our loved ones from the destruction of completing suicide. However, it is difficult to test this theory because our test patients are no longer with us, but we will continue to strive towards a positive resolution. 

You are enough and never give up!


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