Nightmares as predictors of suicide: An extension study including war veterans
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CitationSandman N. Valli K. Kronholm E. Vartiainen E. Laatikainen T. Paunio T. (2017). Nightmares as predictors of suicide: An extension study including war veterans. Scientific Reports, 7, 44756. 10.1038/srep44756.
Nightmares are intensive dreams with negative emotional tone. Frequent nightmares can pose a serious clinical problem and in 2001, Tanskanen et al. found that nightmares increase the risk of suicide. However, the dataset used by these authors included war veterans in whom nightmare frequency - and possibly also suicide risk - is elevated. Therefore, re-examination of the association between nightmares and suicide in these data is warranted. We investigated the relationship between nightmares and suicide both in the general population and war veterans in Finnish National FINRISK Study from the years 1972 to 2012, a dataset overlapping with the one used in the study by Tanskanen et al. Our data comprise 71,068 participants of whom 3139 are war veterans. Participants were followed from their survey participation until the end of 2014 or death. Suicides (N = 398) were identified from the National Causes of Death Register. Frequent nightmares increase the risk of suicide: The result of Tanskanen et al. holds even when war experiences are controlled for. Actually nightmares are not significantly associated with suicides among war veterans. These results support the role of nightmares as an independent risk factor for suicide instead of just being proxy for history of traumatic experiences.