Technical Report – Self-Harm & Suicidality in PANS and Immunopsychiatric Disorders

Shedding Light on the Link Between Self-Harm and Suicidality in PANS and Immunopsychiatric Disorders

Gunilla Gerland, former Chair of SANE, has translated their recent white paper on suicidality and self-harm in Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and other immuno-psychiatric disorders into English. In the realm of mental and neuroimmune health, understanding the complex interplay between self-harm and suicidality is of paramount importance. The Sane white paper unveiled intriguing insights into the world of individuals with Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and immunopsychiatric disorders, delving into the findings, and shedding light on the severity, characteristics, and potential risks associated with self-harming behaviors in this population.

Read the Full Technical Report: Self-Harm & Suicidality in PANS and Immunopsychiatric Disorders

The findings highlight self-harming behaviors within the PANS and immunopsychiatric disorder community that researchers should further explore based on detailed survey data from 240 participants, primarily parental respondents. Disturbingly, these behaviors demonstrate high frequency, employ violent methods, commence at a young age, and even overlap with suicidal tendencies. Such revelations are profoundly concerning and call for heightened awareness and targeted interventions.

Suicidality in Children with PANS and Immunopsychiatric Disorders

It is important to note that limited knowledge exists regarding suicidality in children under 12 years old (Ridge Anderson et al., 2016; Ayer et al., 2020). However, recent research has started to shed light on this critical issue. Sane’s survey findings reveal that over half of those who attempted suicide (n=18) did so before age 15. Almost half of them (n=8) were under 11 years old, and six were only 7 years old or younger at the time of their first suicide attempt.

A crucial finding from the research is the established association between violent self-harm methods and suicide attempts (Bergen et al., 2012). This correlation underscores the gravity of the situation and emphasizes the need for timely intervention and support for those struggling with self-harm in these contexts. Furthermore, the early onset of self-harming behavior has been identified as a risk factor for future suicide (Beckman, 2018), reinforcing the significance of recognizing and addressing these behaviors as early as possible.Suicidality in PANS and Immunopsychiatric Disorder


Self-Harming Behavior in Children with PANS and Immunopsychiatric Disorders

Of the respondents, 51% (n = 121) reported intentional self-harm, while 44% (n = 104) had never engaged in such behavior. A few respondents (n = 14) were unsure about intentional self-harm. The occurrence of self-harming behavior was evenly distributed among genders, with 50% of females and 51% of males reporting such behavior. Among those who had never intentionally harmed themselves (n = 104), 12 had attempted self-harm but were stopped, and 28 had threatened self-harm.

Self-Harm in PANS / Immunopsychiatric Disorders

Healthcare providers are pivotal in treating individuals with PANS and self-harm tendencies. Armed with the knowledge of the survey findings, it is imperative for these professionals to be acutely aware of all the symptoms of PANS and the risks of self-harming and suicidal behaviors. By remaining vigilant and implementing appropriate strategies, healthcare providers can help mitigate the potential progression toward more harmful outcomes. The absence of a comprehensive understanding of PANS and PANDAS by providers necessitates further research and education to address this critical area.

“This study aimed to gain a better understanding of self-harming behavior and suicidality among individuals with Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and other immunopsychiatric disorders by surveying 240 mainly parental respondents. The results showed that a significant number of individuals with these disorders exhibit severe self-harming behaviors that include high frequency, violent methods, onset at a young age, and/or overlap with suicidal behaviors. Suicidal ideation and communication were also found to be common in this population, and suicide attempts appear to occur at a young age. Furthermore, a subgroup of individuals reported extensive suffering including unbearable symptoms, hopelessness, and social isolation.”

Read the Full Technical Report: Self-Harm & Suicidality in PANS and Immunopsychiatric Disorders

Gerland, G. (2023) Self-Harm and Suicidality in Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (Pans) And Immunopsychiatric Disorders. SANE Sweden. 1:2023

SANE is a Swedish non-profit parental and patient society for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and related immunopsychiatric disorders. We are working for early diagnose and treatment and we conduct support activities for our members. We are passionate about our work and happy to cooperate with other associations and organizations worldwide.

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