A new crisis or perceived lack of support could negatively influence suicide rates. According to the most comprehensive survey yet completed of mental health among Hurricane Katrina survivors from Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, the proportion of people with a serious mental illness doubled in the months after the hurricane compared to a survey carried out several years before the hurricane.
The study also found that thoughts of suicide did not increase despite the dramatic increase in mental illness. The authors suggest that this low rate of suicide thoughts is due to optimistic beliefs about the success of future recovery efforts. The research, which was published today in a special online edition of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, was led by researchers from Harvard Medical School (HMS).
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