Suicide attempts higher in teens, young adults with diabetes: study

Young people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are paying the price with their mental health, according to a study published in Diabetes Care by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ).

The study focuses on young people, aged 15 to 25, in Quebec who are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D), one of the most common childhood chronic illnesses.

“We already knew from different studies that children and adolescents with T1D had a higher risk of mental health disorders, but we wanted to see if this remains true as they grow up and become young adults,” said Dr. Marie-Eve Robinson, the first author of the study.

It found that the risk of psychiatric disorders and suicide attempts in this group are much higher than for those who do not have the disease.

In fact, the study states young people with diabetes are three times more likely to attempt suicide and up to 1.5 times more likely to suffer from a mood disorder.

“We are talking mood disorders like depression or anxiety disorders, which can affect their management of the disease,” said Dr. Meranda Nakhla, one of the senior authors of the study.

“The fact that they are more at risk of having mental health disorders also puts them more at risk of having complications and hospitalizations related to diabetes.”

Researchers insist that because of this, there is a greater need for better mental health services for young people living with the chronic illness.

Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, affects around 4,000 children in Quebec. People with T1D regularly need to test their blood sugar levels and administer insulin several times a day.

Badly-controlled blood sugar levels can lead to serious complications like eye disease, kidney disease or death.

The study looked at 3,544 young people living with diabetes, as well as 1,388,397 who do not have the disease.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that are available:

Suicide Action Montreal (1-866-277-3553)

Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645)

Centre for Suicide Prevention (1-833-456-4566)

Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)

If you need immediate assistance, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.