Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Internet Addiction May Increase Risk of Suicidality, Meta-Analysis Finds

People with internet addiction appear to be at a higher risk of suicidal behaviors than those with healthy internet use, according to a meta-analysis in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

“We suggest screening individuals with internet addiction for the risk of suicide even if they do not have depression, as other factors may increase the risk of suicide in those with internet addiction,” Yu-Shian Cheng, M.D., of Tsyr-Huey Mental Hospital in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and colleagues wrote.

While internet addiction disorder is not included as a formal diagnosis in DSM-5, the consequences of pathological internet use continue to attract increasing attention, according to the study authors. (Internet gaming disorder—the persistent and recurrent use of the internet to engage in games, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress—is listed as a condition for further study in DSM-5.) Several studies have suggested that internet addiction is associated with higher rates of suicidal behaviors, but whether this association is driven by other factors, such as depression, remains unclear.

To examine the strength of the association between suicidality and internet addiction, as well as the influence of other suicide risk factors, Cheng and colleagues performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies that investigated the association between internet addiction and suicidality. A total of 23 cross-sectional studies (n = 270,596) and two prospective studies (n = 1,180) were included in the analysis.

The authors found that prevalence rates of suicidal ideation, planning, and attempts were all significantly higher in study participants with internet addiction than in the controls (odds ratios [OR] of 2.952, 3.172, and 2.811, respectively). When the authors only used data from studies that adjusted for demographics and depression, they found that the prevalence rates of suicide attempts and ideation, though reduced, remained significantly higher in the participants with internet addiction than in the controls (attempts: adjusted OR = 1.559; ideation: adjusted OR = 1.490).

Further analysis “showed higher rates of suicidal behaviors in adolescents compared with adults and also showed a trend of higher prevalence rates of suicidal ideation in those with internet gaming disorder compared with those with internet addiction including any type of internet activity,” Cheng and colleagues wrote.

For related information, see the AJP Residents’ Journal article “Facebook Addiction: An Emerging Problem.”

(Image: iStock/tommaso79)


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