Suicide in Medical Patients: Japanese and American Psychiatrist's Attitudes

Suicide is a common and difficult problem in all societies. Many studies have shown that pain and depression are potential risk factors for suicidal risk in medical patients. Acute changes in medical condition and loss of physical function have also been identified as risk factors, as have agitation and readily available lethal means in this population.

The interface of suicide and euthanasia in medical patients is an area where the attitudes of physicians, and especially psychiatrists are of great importance. One study compared the attitudes of psychiatrists in Japan and the United States in order to investigate their ideas on whether patients in general medical hospitals who have a desire to die should be allowed to, or assisted in this regard, and whether they require psychiatric evaluation and intervention, and the cultural influences on these attitudes.

Japanese and American general hospital psychiatrists' attitudes towards the reasonability of suicide, physician assisted suicide, and removal of life supports under various medical and psychosocial situations were compared. Seventy-two American and sixty-two Japanese psychiatrist's data was collected using the Suicidal Attitudes Inventory (SAI).

The majority of both American and Japanese psychiatrists agreed that there may be times when suicidal ideation, or completed suicide in medical-surgical patients could be reasonable. Significantly more Japanese psychiatrists responded with some agreement to the reasonability of suicide when one is unable to fulfill social role expectations, and had more concern about causing suicidal ideation by informing terminal patients of their diagnosis.

Proper use of antidepressants in appropriate suicidal patients is also necessary to consider. The status of antidepressants in Japan that are approved by the Japanese Authorities is an issue that needs to be followed as it has traditionally lagged far behind the West.

Famous quotes containing the words suicide, medical, japanese, american, psychiatrist and/or attitudes:

    However great a man’s fear of life, suicide remains the courageous act, the clear- headed act of a mathematician. The suicide has judged by the laws of chance—so many odds against one that to live will be more miserable than to die. His sense of mathematics is greater than his sense of survival.
    Graham Greene (1904–1991)

    Unusual precocity in children, is usually the result of an unhealthy state of the brain; and, in such cases, medical men would now direct, that the wonderful child should be deprived of all books and study, and turned to play or work in the fresh air.
    Catherine E. Beecher (1800–1878)

    The Japanese have perfected good manners and made them indistinguishable from rudeness.
    Paul Theroux (b. 1941)

    First in booze, first in shoes, and last in the American League.
    —Administration in the State of Miss, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)

    I have known a number of Don Juans who were good studs and who cavorted between the sheets without a psychiatrist to guide them. But most of the busy love-makers I knew were looking for masculinity rather than practicing it. They were fellows of dubious lust.
    Ben Hecht (1893–1964)

    Success and failure in our own national economy will hang upon the degree to which we are able to work with races and nations whose social order and whose behavior and attitudes are strange to us.
    Ruth Benedict (1887–1948)