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Age of Suicide Attempt May Predict Future Health Problems

Update Date: Dec 04, 2013 06:55 PM EST

People who attempt suicide before the age of 24 are significantly more likely to suffer physical and mental problems later in life, according to a new study.

Researchers monitored more than 1,000 New Zealanders from birth to age 38 and found that those who previously attempted suicide were twice as likely as their peers to develop metabolic syndrome and have significantly higher levels of systemic inflammation, both markers of higher risk for heart disease. These people were also three times more likely to have been hospitalized for mental disorders and are more likely to feel lonely and unhappy with life.

"The suicide attempt is a powerful predictor" of trouble in the future, Sidra Goldman-Mellor, a post-doctoral researcher in the Center for Developmental Science at the University of North Carolina, said in a news release. "We think it's a very powerful red flag."

Goldman-Mellor and her team also found that participants who had attempted suicide before age 24 were more impulsive and have more conduct disorders and depression when they were children.

The findings also showed that those who ad attempted suicide before 24 were 2.5 times more likely to be convicted of a violent crime, used twice as much welfare support and were unemployed for twice as many months at the other study participants.

Researchers said that the latest findings emphasize the need for treatment to help prevent later-life issues in those who have attempted suicide.

The findings were published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry

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