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Insomnia Effects Linked With Thoughts Of Suicide In New Study

A new study shows a troubling link between situations and feelings experienced by people with insomnia and thoughts of suicide.

New research in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows that having a dysfunctional outlook toward sleep, as well as having nightmares, are linked with a higher intensity of suicidal thoughts.

"It turns out insomnia can lead to a very specific type of hopelessness, and hopelessness by itself is a powerful predictor of suicide," study researcher Dr. W. Vaughn McCall, the chair of the Medical College of Georgia Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at Georgia Regents University, said in a statement. The findings suggest a "new predictor for suicidal thinking," and show the importance of examining sleep habits and attitudes of people who are depressed and may be at risk for suicide.

Suicide is currently 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and third leading cause of death among teens and young adults (ages 15 to 24), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the study, researchers had 50 people who were depressed take a questionnaire about their insomnia and feelings of hopelessness. Participants' ages ranged from 20 to 84, and more than half were women. More than half of the participants had attempted suicide before.

Researchers found an association between insomnia and suicidal thought intensity, as past research has suggested. However, their study also showed that nightmares and "dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes about sleep" are actually the factors linked with the higher suicide ideation intensity.

Past research has shown that the likelihood of depression or anxiety is five times higher in people with insomnia, HuffPost's Catherine Pearson previously reported. And as WebMD points out, depression may not simply cause insomnia, and insomnia may not simply cause depression -- the relationship between the two is a complicated one, and the two conditions tend to overlap.