The STOP Study: Suicidality: Treatment Occurringin Paediatrics
Archieved Content Circa 2012


 

Suicidality: Treatment Occurring in Paediatrics (STOP). The STOP Study was a comprehensive evaluation of suicidality in children and adolescents. This was the study's website.
Content is from the site's 2012 - 2013 archived pages and other outside sources.

 

STOP program aimed at curbing suicide in young people starts confidential online reporting site

By Paul IrishEntertainment Reporter / www.thestar.com
Tues., Oct. 16, 2012
A European pilot project investigating teenage suicide — ultimately looking for ways to prevent tragedy — has at-risk participants detailing their emotions, mood swings and frustrations on confidential medical websites on a regular basis.
Called STOP (Suicidality: Treatment Occurring in Paediatrics), and operating in six countries including Britain, the private information is monitored by attending physicians and clinicians in each country. They use the young patients’ responses to get a snapshot of their mental state and ultimately decide if immediate intervention is required.

“Suicide is a terrible tragedy,” says Dr. Paramala J. Santosh, who is leading the research and is based out of Maudsley Hospital in London, England. “It’s made even more terrible by the fact that less than half of young people who have committed suicide have received psychiatric care.”
Data shows that during mid-adolescent years suicide is the third leading cause of death and that 90 per cent of those do take their own lives had emotional issuess that could have been treated.
In his initial report Santosh cited misuse of the Internet as a growing cause of teenage suicide and says cyber bullying must be addressed.
News of the suicide of Amanda Todd — the Port Coquitlam B.C. teen who took her own life after being harrased on the Internet — has spread around the globe.
Santosh doesn’t have all the facts but says the young girl could have been in a depressed state if the situation had gone on for a period of time.
“It could have been all the anxiety it created . . . bullying on the internet must be addressed, period,” he said
Patient information in the STOP program is garnered through a checklist of 16 statements including: “I feel life is not worth living” and “I have thought about doing something to end my life” followed by frequency ranging from “never” to “several times a week.”
If one of the 1,300 participants — ranging in age from eight to 18 — checks anything other than “never” an alert is automatically sent to a clinician who will act accordingly, by either contacting the parent or the young patient.

Santosh added that parents also have access to the site and can share their input on their child’s mental state.

The questions are emailed out by clinicians on a regular basis and must be checked off and returned within a specified period of time.

He says that if the project is successful it may eventually allow schools to be part of the “reporting team,” adding input into the web file perhaps helping at-risk students avoid bullying.

Anti-bullying strategies have been in place for a while, but Santosh says the key behind STOP is its ease and speed and the ability to plug into a huge network of interested parties, possibly even workplaces, some day.

Santosh says the STOP program is based on research that has shown suicide risk evaluation should be carried out regularly in order to attempt early intervention as part of suicide prevention programs.

The pilot project — which started this month and lasts a year — will also provide valuable information on how drugs affect the patients. Some anti-derpressant drugs are believed to create suicidal thoughts in adolescents and information received through the checklist could verify if there is indeed a correlation.

Research has shown that suicide rates in the elderly have fallen in many countries, whereas the suicide rate among young people has risen.

As well, risk of onset of suicidal thoughts increases rapidly during adolescence and young adulthood, and then stabilizes in early mid-life.

 

The STOP project aims to develop a comprehensive web-based methodology for the assessment and monitoring of suicidality in children and adolescents. The STOP consortium brings together renowned researchers from across Europe, each with a strong scientific and clinical background in this innovative child and adolescent psychiatry network. It has a mixed and balanced expertise with respect to pediatric psychopharmacology, suicidality, regulatory issues, and use of new technologies and infrastructure.

What are the aims of the STOP study?

Some children and adolescents have conditions that predispose them to suicidality. Medications used to treat medical or psychiatric conditions (some also associated with suicidal risk) may elevate suicidal thoughts or behaviors in a small proportion of patients. Clinicians treating children and adolescents, the patients themselves and their families need to know more about medication-related suicidality (MRS).

Objectives

The STOP study aims to respond to different questions:
What are the best means to monitor MRS?
Is MRS different from suicidality related to the illness?
What biological, psycho-social or illness-related factors put some patients at high risk for MRS? What factors are likely to protect patients from MRS?

This assessment methodology will be used in three clinical samples to identify characteristic features of medication-related suicidality (MRS): children and adolescents receiving an atypical antipsychotic, children receiving fluoxetine for depression and children treated with montelukast for bronchial asthma. These medications were targeted because they have been related to suicidality.

Participate in the study

Why should I (or my kid) participate in the STOP study?

Your participation in the STOP study will help to increase our knowledge about suicidality and MRS. Specifically, you will help us to set up better assessments so that suicidality can be identified and treated quickly. Your participation will lead to a better understanding of the risk factors and mechanisms underlying suicidal ideation and behaviour.

By participating in the STOP study you will have the opportunity to meet clinicians and researchers from our academic expert teams. Their goal is to optimize treatments and follow up monitoring for children and adolescents with mental or physical conditions, to make those treatments more secure. As a participant, you will be informed about the STOP study progress and will have access to updated research and therapeutic issues related to suicidality and MRS.

 

How to participate in the study

The STOP project will recruit children and adolescents followed up for depression, asthma and for conduct disorder. Before these studies can be started, we will also recruit children treated in the STOP centres (for different conditions) to help us finalizing a questionnaire that will then be used to develop our web-based assessment.

To participate in a given study of the STOP project, yourself or your parents can contact us to obtain detailed information about the different studies.

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AN ASIDE: Although the STOP study was a European based initiative, I was still interested in the results. If we lived in the UK, I think we would have enrolled our teenage daughter in the STOP study. Our daughter had been diagnosed with Essential Thrombocythemia when she was fifteen. Initially we were shocked and she was devastated. ET is a rare chronic blood cancer (myeloproliferative neoplasm) characterized by the overproduction of platelets (thrombocytes) by megakaryocytes in the bone marrow. The doctor told us it was not necessarily hereditory and although there's no cure for essential thrombocythemia, there are treatments available. At her age and her platelet count would not require her to be on any drugs at this point. And, lifespan is expected to be normal despite the disease. Well, as a fifteen year old she thought this was a death sentence. She focused on the reality that ET which is characterized by the proliferation of megakaryocytes in bone marrow, leading to a persistent increase in the number of circulating platelets would increase her the risk for thrombotic and hemorrhagic events. Although we joined a facebook group for ET patients most were older. However there were kids her age and younger who had it. The first two years after her diagnosis were horrific. She became depressed which impacted everything from school to her social life, to our family. Suicide was a concern of ours. Fortunately we survived. She found her way though these dark times with help from a therapist we found and her empathetic hemotologist and has emerged as a vibrant 20 year old looking forward towards life after college. Interestingly her therapist was aware of the STOP project.

Recently I was online ordering a new pair of mens designer glasses- specifically a replacement of my Oakley semi-rimless Lizard glasses. I first bought a pair of these super light Titanium glasses frames the week my daughter first learned about her Essential Thrombocythemia diagnosis. They have lasted me over five years. Pretty impressive considering how hard I can be on my glasses. I hope that the new pair will last as long.

I feel proud of the way my daughter has come to accept her ET and now refuses to let it hold her back. As her parent I have my concerns particularly when you read about the issues some people have who also have ET. Fortunately she has had no complications nor is she on any medication other than a baby aspirin. I know there will come a time when this chronic cancer will force her to start on oral chemo drugs to keep her platelets at a reasonable level. But she approaches life one day at a time, a method that I try to also do, but not quite as successfully as I would like.

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Background: STOP Project

 

General Information: Suicidality


Suicidality refers to suicidal ideation and suicide-related behaviors including completed suicide. Suicidal ideation comprises thoughts related to suicide and suicide plans. Suicide related behaviors include:

  • completed suicide: self-inflicted death with intention to die,
  • suicidal attempts: self-inflicted potentially harmful behavior without fatal issue but with intention to die,
  • self harm: deliberate self-inflicted potentially harmful act regardless of motive.

The term of deliberate self harm refers to self-inflicted injuries regardless of the intent to die. In the UK, the term has been changed to “self-harm” to avoid the connotation of intentionality (however, in the US literature, the term self-harm qualifies intentional injuries without intent to die e.g. “self-mutilation”). A suicide threat is the communication of a suicidal intent whereas a suicide plan is a concrete suicide project.

Suicide is one of the tenth leading cause for deaths worldwide contributing 1.5% of all deaths. Approximately 1 million people die due to suicide each year.
Risk of suicidal ideation increases rapidly during adolescence and young adulthood and stabilizes in early midlife. The greatest risk for suicidal attempts is in adolescence and early adulthood. The prevalence rates in adolescents are reported cross-nationally to be 19.8-24.0% for suicidal ideation, and 3.1% - 8.8% for suicidal attempts.
Suicide is the second cause of death among young people, after accidents. The rates of suicide vary according to age; in childhood and early adolescence suicide is rare but suicide rates increase in adolescents and young adulthood. The latest mean worldwide annual rates of suicide per 100 000 were 0.5 for females and 0.9 for males among 5-14-year-olds, and 12.0 for females and 14.2 for males among 15-24-year-olds, respectively. Males often outnumber females in worldwide youth completed suicide statistics, although suicide attempts are more frequent in females.
Due to the growing risk for suicide with increasing age, adolescents are the main target of suicide prevention as less than half of young people who have committed suicide had received psychiatric care.

Are suicidal ideation, attempts and completed suicide related?
Suicidal ideation and behaviours can occur both independently and together. The majority of individuals who report suicidal ideation will not try to commit suicide. Research across 17 countries has suggested that those who have suicidal ideations have the conditional probability of 29% of ever making a suicide attempt. However, attempt increases to 56% for those who do have suicidal ideation and have formulated a plan, but without this plan only 15.4% are likely to attempt suicide. The majority of these transitions will occur within the first year of the onset of suicidal ideation.
In patients having attempted suicide, 24,5 % will commit another suicidal attempt in the next seven years. The risk of suicide in the year following a suicidal attempt is 30 to 200 times higher in comparison with the general population and increases with the number of suicidal attempts, particularly in women.

Is self-harm related to suicidality?
The progression from suicidal ideation to self-harm and then to suicide is by no means absolute. However of those patients who present to hospital with self-harm, around 7% will have completed suicide over a 9 year period of follow-up The suicide rate appears to be higher amongst those patients who abscond from medical care or who took precautions against discovery .

What are the main risk factors of suicidality?
Primary risk factors are associated with high individual risk and are likely targets for therapeutic interventions. Main primary risk factors are : familial and personal antecedents of suicidal behavior, presence of a psychiatric disorder (mainly depressive disorders and disruptive behaviors), substance use such as repeated acute alcohol intake , the communication of suicidal intent, high impulsivity, high hopelessness (sub-clinical depressive symptoms), presence of a chronic physical illness. Secondary risk factors are identified in the community and are only partially modifiable; they comprise early loss of a parent, social isolation, unemployment or financial problems, severe adverse life events, being actor or victim of violence. Tertiary risk factors are statistically associated with suicidal risk but carry a low individual predictive value: age (adolescence and old age), male gender, vulnerability periods (summer, premenstrual period in women).

Assessment of suicidality in general
Patients presenting with suicidal ideation or following a suicide attempt should be assessed at three levels: presence of risk factors, immediacy of suicidal risk and dangerousness of the suicidal means. The immediacy of suicidal risk involves the existence of a suicidal scenario and is rated high if the suicidal plan is precise and concrete, moderate if the plan is imprecise and low in the absence of a scenario. The absence of alternative for the patient also contributes to the immediacy of risk. Assessment of suicidal means refers to lethality and accessibility of the considered suicide method. Suicidality is generally assessed through clinical interview, eventually completed by questionnaires.
Screening procedures have been developed to identify at-risk children and adolescents in order to offer prevention services. These include self-report measures such as the Columbia Suicide Screen the Suicide Risk Screen and the Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire – Junior (SIQ-Jr) . Universal screening in school settings for example carry the risk of identifying false positives and the issue of follow-up of subjects with positive screens; screening in at-risk groups (children/adolescents in emergency departments, in primary care) is an important issue that also calls for outcome assessments.

What is medication-related suicidality?
The term ‘Medication-Related Suicidality’ (MRS) is a reported adverse event and is defined as any suicide-related symptoms that are reported during the period of treatment with the drug. Symptoms include suicidal ideation, suicidal plans and suicidal behaviours and sometimes also extend to non-suicidal self-harm.

What are the mechanisms of medication-related suicidality?
Assessment of suicidality in relation to drugs is difficult in particular in children and adolescents because of a number of reasons: 1) Assessment procedures of suicidality developed in adults may not be appropriate for younger people (e.g. differences in self-assessment, ability to communicate emotions, abstract thinking) 2) Suicidality related to pharmacological treatment may be different from suicidality related to disease. 3) Notification and recording of suicidality is variable across clinical trials

How can medication-related suicidality be assessed?
Assessment of suicidality in relation to drugs is difficult in particular in children and adolescents because of a number of reasons: 1) Assessment procedures of suicidality developed in adults may not be appropriate for younger people (e.g. differences in self-assessment, ability to communicate emotions, abstract thinking) 2) Suicidality related to pharmacological treatment may be different from suicidality related to disease. 3) Notification and recording of suicidality is variable across clinical trials.
The mechanisms involved in increased suicidal ideation and behaviour during treatment are unknown. It has been proposed that medication may induce behavioural activation, including anxiety, irritability, agitation, and insomnia, which would facilitate suicidality, presumably mainly in the first weeks of treatment. Analyses of community clinical practice databases show conflicting results: some have indeed indicated that the rate of suicidal behaviour is highest in the first month of treatment, and especially during the first nine days but in other analyses the rate was actually the highest in the month prior to starting antidepressant medication with a gradual decline during treatment. Time patterns of suicide attempts in clinical populations show highest rates of suicide attempts in the month before treatment and next highest in the month after starting treatment and decrease afterwards; these time patterns have been shown in adult outpatients with both medications and psychotherapy. Most suicidal events in the antidepressant trials conducted in children and adolescents occurred in the context of persistent depression and insufficient improvement, without evidence of medication-induced behavioral activation as a precursor.

What are the expected improvements in assessing MRS with the STOP project?
It is the aim of the STOP project to create a multidimensional assessment and monitoring tool to detect and follow-up suicidal ideas and behaviors that could be implemented in clinical practice and in clinical trials. This assessment will be based on two classifications: the classification of suicide related thoughts and behavior (17) and the Columbia Classification Algorithm of suicidal assessment (C-CASA) (14). The output of the STOP assessment is a computer generated classification of suicidality. This comprehensive assessment of suicidality and related individual and environmental variables (moderators and mediators of suicidality) will contribute to a better understanding of the specific characteristics of medication-related suicidality. Once standardized, the STOP classification could be used for pharmacovigilance and in epidemiological, observational and registration trials.

 



Project Summary

Background

There is insufficient data available about safety of using many medications in children and adolescents who may have an illness that itself predispose them to suicidality. There is also insufficient data available about the time-course of medication related suicidality and what happens to it over the long-term. Further, there is insufficient data available about the long-term safety, in particular about medication related suicidality, especially since there is evidence to suggest that paediatric populations may represent a vulnerable group compared to adults.

The STOP project arises from the collaboration of a group of experts in paediatric psychopharmacology within the framework of the European Child and Adolescent Paediatric Network (ECAPN). ECAPN is supported by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) (www.ecnp.eu) and its network initiative (EcnpNI).

Objectives

The STOP project aims to develop a comprehensive web-based methodology for the assessment and monitoring of suicidality in children and adolescents. Four domains are of importance for this purpose: assessment and monitoring of suicidality, assessment of putative risk and protective factors but also mediators (intermediate outcomes contributing to treatment effects), assessment of psychiatric and physical symptoms and medication characteristics.

This assessment methodology will be used in three clinical samples to identify characteristic features of medication-related suicidality (MRS): children and adolescent receiving an atypical antipsychotic, children receiving fluoxetine for depression and children treated with montelukast for bronchial asthma. These medications were targeted because they have been related to suicidality.

Summary of the STOP project

The project consists of 12 Workpackages (WPs).
WP1 covers the management of the overall project.
WPs 2 to 4 are each focusing on specific aspects of the bio-psycho-social mediators of suicidality. WP2 consists in a meta-analysis looking for medication-related suicidality signals in an international database. WP3 establishes the biological sampling methodology for investigation of mediators of suicidality and WP4 focuses on the psychosocial mediators of suicidality.
WP5 focuses on the assessment of suicidality. WP6 converts the assessment of suicidality and the bio-psycho-social mediators of suicidality (including specific psychopathology and medical illness assessment, and medication characteristics) into an online data-capture module, which will be and translated to Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Bengali Syletti.
WPs 7-9 focus on clinical trials of antipsychotics, fluoxetine and montelukast:
WP7 consists in a 12 month longitudinal naturalistic prospective pharmacovigilance study in children and adolescents treated with risperidone for different indications
WP8 consists in a 12 month longitudinal naturalistic prospective pharmacovigilance study in children and adolescents treated with fluoxetine
WP9 consists in a 12 month longitudinal naturalistic prospective pharmacovigilance study in children and adolescents treated with montelukast for bronchial asthma.
WP10-12 deal with special topics that are relevant to the overall project and the clinical studies/WPs:
WP10 contains an outline of our approach to training of all professionals and researchers that will be involved in the clinical studies.
WP11 describes our approach to the ethical issues that are relevant to the whole process of preparing and performing the clinical studies and analysing, reporting and implementing and dissemination of the results.
WP12 will address the important issue of the dissemination of the results of our project.

 


Scientific Advisory Board

The Scientific, Clinical and Ethical Advisory Board will ensure a high standard of research and monitor the progress of the project by taking part in the annual General Assembly Meetings. The Board will also fulfil the tasks of the Data Safety Monitoring Board. Whenever appropriate, the consortium will consult the Advisory Board for recommendations to improve the performance of the consortium. Members of the Board are:

  1. Alessandro Serretti, MD, PhD, Institute of Psychiatry, University of Bologna, Italy
  2. Eric Taylor, Prof, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK
  3. Benedetto Vitiello, MD, National Institute of Mental Health, United States of America

 

 

The STOP consortium

STOP represents a unique mix of people with different skills all dedicated towards the better assessment of suicidality in children and adolescents and the study of medication related suicidality. This team is drawn from different EU member states, cultures and backgrounds but all working together towards a common goal.

The coordinator of the STOP project is Dr. Paramala Santosh from the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry PO85| Institute of Psychiatry| 16 De'Crespigny Park | London | SE5 8AF

Head of the Centre for Interventional Paediatric Psychopharmacology (CIPP) Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Michael Rutter Centre | Maudsley Hospital | De'Crespigny Park | London | SE5 8AZ

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