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‘Suicide risk almost seven times higher after young onset dementia diagnosis’

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The chance of somebody taking their very own life is sort of seven times higher after diagnosis of young onset dementia, a latest study suggests.

Researchers say their findings indicate clinics should goal suicide risk assessment to patients who’re diagnosed with the condition before the age of 65.

Early recognition and a timely accurate diagnosis of dementia, combined with specialist support, are necessary aspects in reducing the distress attributable to a young onset diagnosis, they add.

Queen Mary University of London and University of Nottingham scientists checked out medical records of some 594,674 people from 2001 to 2019 to find out if there was a link between dementia diagnosis and suicide risk.

They found that almost 2% of patients with a dementia diagnosis died from suicide.

A dementia diagnosis may be devastating, and our work shows that we also must be sure that services have the resources to offer appropriate support after a diagnosis is given

Dr Charles Marshall, Queen Mary University of London

In accordance with the study, patients were at a high risk of suicide after a dementia diagnosis if aged under 65, throughout the first three months after a diagnosis, or in the event that they had known psychiatric illness.

It found that in patients younger than 65 years and inside three months of diagnosis, suicide risk was 6.69 times higher than in patients without dementia.

Dr Charles Marshall, senior writer and clinical senior lecturer and honorary consultant neurologist on the Wolfson Institute of Population Health at Queen Mary, said: “Improving access to a dementia diagnosis is a vital healthcare priority.

“Nevertheless, a dementia diagnosis may be devastating, and our work shows that we also must be sure that services have the resources to offer appropriate support after a diagnosis is given.”

Within the UK, around 850,000 people currently live with dementia and it’s the leading explanation for death.

Around 42,000 of those people have young onset dementia.

Many services are inclined to be geared towards people aged 65 years and over, meaning it could be very difficult for younger people and their families to access a timely diagnosis and appropriate support.

Dr Susan Mitchell, Alzheimer’s Research UK

Only around two-thirds of those living with dementia have received a diagnosis, and improving access to a timely and accurate dementia diagnosis is a significant NHS priority.

But experts say the expansion of memory clinics for diagnosing dementia has not at all times been accompanied by additional resources for supporting patients within the difficult period after diagnosis.

Dr Danah Alothman, lead writer and researcher on the University of Nottingham, said: “These findings suggest that memory clinics should particularly goal suicide risk assessment to patients with young onset dementia, patients in the primary few months after dementia diagnosis and patients already known to have psychiatric problems.”

The findings are published within the Jama Neurology journal.

Dr Susan Mitchell, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “While this study paints a mixed picture concerning the impact of dementia and suicide risk, it’s worrying to see that those under 65 living with a dementia diagnosis are at an increased risk of suicide.

“As dementia is commonly related to older people, there may be a profound level of stigma attached to young onset dementia, and the technique of getting a diagnosis may be frustrating and incredibly isolating.

“Many services are inclined to be geared towards people aged 65 years and over, meaning it could be very difficult for younger people and their families to access a timely diagnosis and appropriate support.

“This, when combined with the incontrovertible fact that there are not any treatments available within the UK that may slow or stop the progression of the underlying diseases that cause dementia, may be devastating to bear.

“Findings like this underpin the necessity for vital progress in developing latest treatments, something that every one of us working in dementia research are eager to see.”

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