Nightmares Linked with Multiple Suicide Attempts

A study from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden reports that suicidal patients are more likely to attempt to take their life again if they have nightmares following the first attempt. In fact, the data suggests that gender and psychiatric diagnosis is not a factor in these results.  From the original article,

“Those who were still suffering from nightmares after two months faced an even greater risk. These people were five times more likely to attempt suicide a second time,” says author of the thesis, Registered Nurse Nils Sj str m.

This study highlights the importance of nightmare assessment for suicide watches in psychiatric hospitals and other institutions.

In my mind, it also brings up the age old research question about nightmares: are they helpful in dispelling terrors or are they only creating more stress? This is no either/or scenario, but this correlation certainly begs the question. Could working with nightmares in this scenerio make a difference, or should researchers be looking for ways to stop nightmares from happening” What do you think?


  1. says

    It might be a good idea for depressed/suicidal people to learn lucid dreaming techniques. Becoming aware during a nightmare that it’s just a dream could help the dreamer understand the source of the nightmare and maybe make it less frightening.

    • says

      good thought, John. I have recently been reviewing lucid dreaming as a treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which has had some early successes. see Spoormaker and van den Bout’s journal article in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 2006: 75.

      Lucid dreaming for schizophrenics, on the other hand, could be a bad mix, given the diagnostic issue with distinguishing between dream and waking reality.