People who have an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are ten times as likely to commit suicide as the general population. Why does OCD increase the risk of suicide? Research into this issue tells us that the severity of the OCD makes a big difference. So do having other mental health issues like schizophrenia, mood disorders like depression, substance abuse problems, being unemployed, and being socially isolated. To what degree does depression caused by the OCD drive suicidal impulses and to what degree does suicidal thinking become part of the obsessive and compulsive cycle? When do psychedelics for OCD decrease the risk of suicide?
What Is an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
People who have repetitive and unwanted or intrusive urges, thoughts, and compensatory actions are said to have an obsessive compulsive disorder. The thoughts and behaviors of a person with OCD make little sense to other people. However, they make sense to the person with OCD in that the compulsive actions they take provide temporary relief from the anxiety and stress that lay behind their obsessions. The compulsions that others see a person with OCD carry out are immediately tied to getting relief from that person’s obsessive thoughts.
Types of Obsessive Thoughts in OCD
People who suffer from OCD commonly have fears of not doing things perfectly, contamination with germs, harming others, not having things or objects in correct order, violence, sexual thoughts, and reaped aggressive urges. Harming oneself or ending one’s life may come into the picture not as a thing that the person fears but as a potential solution to the mental torture they go through every day with their obsessive compulsive disorder. Nevertheless, there are times when thoughts of self-harm become integral to the obsessive compulsive cycle.
Harm Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Harm obsessive compulsive disorder as a specific subset of types of OCD. Of the variations of this type of OCD there are thoughts of physical harm, aggression towards others, thoughts of harming or killing others and thoughts of harming or killing oneself. Sexual aggression and sexual harm including harming children can be especially troubling to a person with OCD. These types of thoughts and obsessions are unique and different from the situation in which a person becomes so depressed by their OCD that they feel helpless and think of suicide as a way to end their suffering.
Non-suicidal Self Injury
One type of OCD involves compulsively harming oneself without the intent to end life. Technically this is described as “the deliberate, self-inflicted destruction of body tissue without suicidal intent and for purposes not socially sanctioned.” Types of this sort of behavior include burning, head-banging, hitting, skin puncturing, and cutting. All of these, in the world of OCD, are intended to relieve the stress that brings on obsessions. These individuals do not want to die. These behaviors commonly begin during adolescence and may continue into adulthood. In general, people who suffer from this variety of OCD are depressed, chronically anxious, or have personality disorders.
Suicidal Obsessions That Are Related to OCD
People who suffer from this sort of OCD have obsessions of suicide. These images or thoughts intrude on their daily life. These thoughts may be related to a harm type of OCD or simply thoughts of suicide by themselves. In general, these people are afraid of dying by suicide. They may have strong moral thoughts that are opposed to suicide. However, they live in fear that they will act out and kill themselves. The obsessions these people have are typically that they will go insane or lose control and end their lives. While these people often do not engage in compulsive acts that others will see, they commonly go through mental rituals that are compulsive in response to their suicidal obsessions.
Mental rituals in these cases include trying to use positive thoughts to crowd out suicidal thoughts, counting, praying, asking for reassurance from others, or other ritualistic mental activities.
OCD Treatment with Psychedelics and Suicide
The ten-fold increase in suicide risk in people with OCD is not caused by those who have obsessions of suicide as they spend their waking hours trying to crowd such thoughts out of their minds. Rather the high incidence of suicide in OCD sufferers is caused by people being beaten down by their OCD, feeling hopeless, and getting severely depressed. Here is where the use of psychedelics comes into play. Not only does the psychedelic medicine psilocybin help people with OCD but it is also helpful as adjunct therapy for depression.