The latest medical research on Forensic Psychiatry

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Long gun suicides in the state of Maryland following the firearm safety act of 2013.

Suicide Life Threat

In 2013, the state of Maryland passed the Firearms Safety Act limiting the private sales of handguns, which did not apply to long guns often used for hunting (e.g., rifles and shotguns). This decreased the accessibility of handguns relative to long guns. We assessed the frequency of long gun suicides in the years before and after the policy change during winter season, which encompasses hunting season in Maryland.

We performed a retrospective analysis on all 4107 well-characterized adult suicides caused by firearms in Maryland from 2003 through 2019. Logistic regression was performed, stratifying by decedent sex, race, and age.

While handgun suicides decreased in the period after 2013's Firearm Safety Act (p < 0.008), wintertime long gun suicides increased after 2013 (p < 0.004). Caucasian race (p < 0.006), male sex (p < 0.005), and middle age (p < 0.001) were significantly associated with wintertime long gun suicides after 2013.

Our findings suggest that while the 2013 Firearms Safety Act decreased handgun suicides significantly, it did not reduce long gun suicides and there may even have been replacement with long guns during hunting season, when rifles are out and accessible. This association was most prominent among the demographics most likely to hunt (Caucasian, middle-aged, and male).

Validations of the Farsi versions of the depressive symptom inventory suicidality subscale (F-DSI-SS) and suicide rumination scale (F-SRS) among Iranian college students.

Suicide Life Threat

Suicidal thoughts are relatively common among college students in Iran. However, measures frequently used to assess suicidality or specific aspects of suicidal ideation in the United States have yet to be validated in Iran. Thus, the present study validated Farsi versions of the Depressive Symptom Inventory Suicidality Subscale (F-DSI-SS) and Suicide Rumination Scale (F-SRS) among Iranian college students.

College students (N = 1043; 88.1% women) completed the F-DSI-SS. Forty-six percent (n = 481) of participants reported the presence of suicidal thoughts and were eligible to fill out the F-SRS. Analyses focused on validating the factor structure, construct, and convergent validity of the F-DSI-SS and F-SRS among college students, as well as testing measurement invariance by gender of the F-DSI-SS.

Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) indicated that the F-DSI-SS and F-SRS had good fit to the data and each displayed a one-factor structure. Furthermore, the F-DSI-SS showed strong measurement invariance across genders. Internal consistency of the F-DSI-SS and F-SRS was good. Lastly, the F-DSI-SS and F-SRS's items and their total scores were intercorrelated and demonstrated good convergent validity.

Findings suggest that the F-DSI-SS and F-SRS will enable researchers to examine suicidal thoughts and suicide-specific rumination in Iran.

Longitudinal mediation by perceived burden of the pathway from thwarted belonging to suicidal ideation.

Suicide Life Threat

Whereas the interpersonal theory of suicide entails the assumption that thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness are equally important, mutually moderating, proximal causes of active ideation, evidence suggests these may not be co-moderating processes. We tested an alternative perspective, hypothesizing that burden mediates the longitudinal relationship of thwarted belonging with active ideation.

A 6-week, four-wave prospective online survey was completed by 298 undergraduates. We tested cross-sectional and cross-lagged panel models (CLPM, with and without random effects) with belonging, burden, and ideation at 2-week lags, and post hoc models with burden as a concurrent mediator of ideation.

Approximately 28% of undergraduates reported active ideation at baseline. Cross-sectionally, thwarted belonging had no direct influence on ideation but indirectly affected ideation via burden. This result was not confirmed in the 2-week CLPM analyses. In post hoc analyses, we found belonging operated indirectly via later burden to influence contemporaneous ideation.

Findings suggest thwarted belonging influences active ideation indirectly via perceived burden. The effect of burden as a mediator appears to depend on its temporal proximity to ideation. Future research should delimit the period during which perceived burden is an active mediator, accommodate dual-process approaches, and explore other mediation alternatives to co-moderation.

Diminished body trust uniquely predicts suicidal ideation and nonsuicidal self-injury among people with recent self-injurious thoughts and behaviors.

Suicide Life Threat

Self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITBs) are difficult to predict, and novel risk factors must be identified. While diminished interoception is associated with SITBs cross-sectionally, the current study assesses whether multiple measures of interoception predict future SITBs.

Adults (N = 43) with recent SITBs completed assessments of interoception during a baseline visit. Participants then completed biweekly assessments for 6 months in which they reported the presence and severity/frequency of suicidal ideation and nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI).

Multilevel models were performed, where baseline interoceptive measures predicted presence and severity/frequency of suicidal ideation and NSSI at follow-up. The Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA) Trusting subscale was the only significant predictor of the presence/severity of suicidal ideation. The MAIA Trusting, Emotional Awareness, and Body Listening subscales significantly predicted the presence of NSSI. The MAIA Emotional Awareness subscale and the Body Perception Questionnaire significantly predicted NSSI frequency.

Diminished body trust predicted both suicidal ideation and NSSI, indicating a potential shared risk pathway. However, two interoception measures (Body Listening subscale and Body Perception Questionnaire) were associated with NSSI only, indicating potentially unique risk pathways. Given the differential associations between interoception measures and SITBs, results highlight the importance of clearly defining how interoception is measured.

Risk factors of suicidal behaviors in a high-risk longitudinal veteran sample: A network analysis.

Suicide Life Threat

Suicide is a substantial public health burden, particularly among veterans. Risk factors have been delineated for suicide; however, the dynamic interrelations between risk factors have not been fully examined. Such research has the potential to elucidate processes that contribute to suicide risk between individuals with a past suicide attempt (attempters) and those without a past suicide attempt (nonattempters).

In the current study, network analysis was used to compare networks between attempters and nonattempters in a high-risk veteran sample (N = 770; Mage  = 32.3 years, SD = 6.8; 326 with a past suicide attempt) who were followed over 1 year. Networks were estimated to examine (1) concurrent relations of suicide risk factors at baseline and (2) predictability of prospective suicidal behavior (SB).

There were no differences in the overall connectivity of attempter and nonattempter networks. Perceived burdensomeness and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms were most central in the attempters' network, whereas PTSD symptoms and insomnia were most central in the nonattempters' network. The risk factors prospective SB in either network. However, attempters were more likely to engage in SB over the course of the study.

These findings highlight the difficulty in predicting who will attempt suicide.

Preoperative and postoperative memory in epilepsy patients with 'gliosis only' versus hippocampal sclerosis: a matched case-control study.

Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry

Gliosis only (GO) and hippocampal sclerosis (HS) are distinct histopathological entities in mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. This study explores whether this distinction also exists on a functional level when evaluating pre- and postoperative memory.

Using a retrospective matched case-control study design, we analysed verbal and visual memory performance in 49 patients with GO and 49 patients with HS before and one year after elective surgery.

Clinical differences were evident with a later age at seizure onset (18±12 vs 12±9 years) and fewer postoperative seizure-free patients in the GO group (63% vs 82%). Preoperatively, group and individual-level data demonstrated that memory impairments were less frequent, less severe and relatively non-specific in patients with GO compared with HS. Postoperatively, verbal memory declined in both groups, particularly after left-sided resections, with more significant losses in patients with GO. Factoring in floor effects, GO was also associated with more significant visual memory loss, particularly after left resections.

Compared with HS, GO is characterised by (1) a later onset of epilepsy, (2) less pronounced and more non-specific memory impairments before surgery, (3) a less successful surgical outcome and (4) a more significant memory decline after surgery. Overall, our results regarding cognition provide further evidence that GO and HS are distinct clinical entities. Functional integrity of the hippocampus appears higher in GO, as indicated by a better preoperative memory performance and worse memory outcome after surgery. The different risk-benefit ratios should be considered during presurgical patient counselling.

Somatic symptom disorder in patients with post-COVID-19 neurological symptoms: a preliminary report from the somatic study (Somatic Symptom Disorder Triggered by COVID-19).

Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry

To assess the diagnosis of somatic symptom disorder (SSD) in patients with unexplained neurological symptoms occurring after SARS-CoV-2 infection, also referred to as long COVID.

Patients were contacted for a standardised psychometric evaluation by phone, followed by a self-survey.

Although the patients did not meet the DSM-5 criteria for a functional neurological symptom disorder specifically, SSD diagnosis based on DSM-5 criteria was positive in 32 (64%) patients. In the remaining 18 patients, SSD was considered possible given the high score on diagnostic scales. Physical examination were normal for all. Brain MRI showed unspecific minor white matter hyperintensities in 8/46 patients. Neuropsychological assessment showed exclusively mild impairment of attention in 14 out of 15 tested patients, in discrepancy with their major subjective complaint. Forty-five (90%) patients met criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Seventeen (32%) patients were screened positive for mood-anxiety disorders, 19 (38%) had a history of prior SSD and 27 (54%) reported past trauma. Additional self-survey highlighted post-traumatic stress disorder in 12/43 (28%), high levels of alexithymia traits and perfectionism. Long-lasting symptoms had a major impact with a high rate of insomnia (29/43, 67%), psychiatric follow-up (28/50, 56%) and work or pay loss (25/50, 50%).

A majority of patients with unexplained long-lasting neurological symptoms after mild COVID met diagnostic criteria for SSD and may require specific management.


Exploring the phenotype of Italian patients with ALS with intermediate ATXN2 polyQ repeats.

Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry

To detect the clinical characteristics of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) carrying an intermediate ATXN2 polyQ number of repeats in a large population-based series of Italian patients with ALS.

The study population includes 1330 patients with ALS identified through the Piemonte and Valle d'Aosta Register for ALS, diagnosed between 2007 and 2019 and not carrying C9orf72, SOD1, TARDBP and FUS mutations. Controls were 1274 age, sex and geographically matched Italian subjects, identified through patients' general practitioners.

We found 42 cases and 4 controls with≥31 polyQ repeats, corresponding to an estimated OR of 10.4 (95% CI 3.3 to 29.0). Patients with≥31 polyQ repeats (ATXN2+) compared with those without repeat expansion (ATXN2-) had more frequently a spinal onset (p=0.05), a shorter diagnostic delay (p=0.004), a faster rate of ALSFRS-R progression (p=0.004) and King's progression (p=0.004), and comorbid frontotemporal dementia (7 (28.0%) vs 121 (13.4%), p=0.037). ATXN2+ patients had a 1-year shorter survival (ATXN2+ patients 1.82 years, 95% CI 1.08 to 2.51; ATXN2- 2.84 years, 95% CI 1.67 to 5.58, p=0.0001). ATXN2 polyQ intermediate repeats was independently related to a worse outcome in Cox multivariable analysis (p=0.006).

In our population-based cohort, ATXN2+ patients with ALS have a distinctive phenotype, characterised by a more rapid disease course and a shorter survival. In addition, ATXN2+ patients have a more severe impairment of cognitive functions. These findings have relevant implications on clinical practice, including the possibility of refining the individual prognostic prediction and improving the design of ALS clinical trials, in particular as regards as those targeted explicitly to ATXN2.

Risk of stroke in multiple sclerosis and neuromyelitis optic spectrum disorder: a Nationwide cohort study in South Korea.

Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) are more likely to develop stroke than those without. However, little is known about the association between neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) and the risk of stroke. We aimed to estimate the risk of stroke in patients with MS and NMOSD in South Korea.

Data from the Korean National Health Insurance between January 2010 and December 2017 were analysed. A total of 1541/1687 adult patients with MS/NMOSD, who were free of stroke were included. Matched controls were selected based on age, sex and the presence of hypertension, diabetes mellitus and dyslipidaemia.

The risk of developing stroke was 2.78 times higher (adjusted HR (aHR), 95% CI 1.91 to 4.05) in patients with MS compared with controls matched by age, sex, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and dyslipidaemia. The risk of stroke in NMOSD was also higher than that in matched controls (aHR=1.69, 95% CI 1.10 to 2.61) and not statistically different from that of MS (p=0.216). The patients with MS had a higher risk for either of ischaemic or haemorrhagic stroke (HR=2.63 and 2.93, respectively), whereas those with NMOSD had a higher risk for ischaemic stroke (HR=1.60) with marginal statistical significance.

The risk of stroke is increased in patients with MS and NMOSD and seemed comparable between the two conditions. This is the first study that estimates the risk of stroke in patients with MS and NMOSD within the same population.

Minority stressors and suicidal ideation in sexual and gender minority youth assigned female at birth: Prospective associations and racial differences.

Suicide Life Threat

Suicidal ideation (SI) disproportionately affects sexual and gender minority (SGM) versus cisgender/heterosexual youth, likely due to the minority stressors (MS) they face. Research has shown cross-sectional associations between SGM MS and suicidality; however, few studies have used longitudinal data or examined racial differences in the effects of MS on SI. The current study tested whether MS prospectively predict next-year SI and whether race moderates these prospective associations.

Three hundred and sixty-nine Black, Latinx, and White SGM youth completed baseline measures of MS, SI, and demographics, and SI 6 and 12 months later.

Internalized stigma, microaggressions, and low support from family and from significant others demonstrated associations with next-year SI. When controlling for baseline SI, however, only low significant other support predicted next-year SI. Moderation analyses indicated that internalized stigma predicted SI for White, but not Black or Latinx, individuals and that lower friend support was associated with SI for Latinx, but not White or Black, individuals.

Though minority stressors appear to raise risk for SI among SGM, effects may differ by race. Internalized stigma may be particularly influential for SI among White SGM whereas lack of support from friends may be most influential for SI among Latinx SGM youth.

Prevalence of young-onset dementia: nationwide analysis of routinely collected data.

Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry

Young-onset dementia prevalence is understudied internationally. Previous studies have been limited by low case numbers, reliance on single sources of routinely collected health data for case identification and inclusion of a limited age range. Our objective was to determine the 1-year period prevalence of diagnosed dementia in people aged 0-64 in the entire New Zealand population using routinely collected health data.

A population-based descriptive study was carried out in New Zealand (population 4.8 million) using routinely collected deidentified health data from 2016 to 2020. Dementia cases in seven linked health datasets in the New Zealand Integrated Data Infrastructure were identified using diagnostic codes and/or use of antidementia medication. Prevalence for each of the four study years was calculated by age, sex and ethnicity.

From a total population of 4 027 332-4 169 754 individuals aged 0-64, we identified 3396-3474 cases of 'all-cause' dementia in each of the study years (prevalence crude range: 83-84/100 000 people aged 0-64; 139-141/100 000 people aged 30-64 years; 204-207/100 000 people aged 45-64 years). Age-standardised prevalence was higher in males than females. Age-standardised and sex-standardised prevalence was higher in Māori and Pacific People than European and Asian.

By using a large study population and multiple national health datasets, we have minimised selection bias and estimated the national prevalence of diagnosed young-onset dementia with precision. Young-onset dementia prevalence for the total New Zealand population was similar to reported global prevalence, validating previous estimates. Prevalence differed by ethnicity, which has important implications for service planning.

Ipsilateral and axial tremor response to focused ultrasound thalamotomy for essential tremor: clinical outcomes and probabilistic mapping.

Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry

NCT01932463, NCT01827904, and NCT02252380.

To investigate the effects of MRgFUS in patients with ET with an emphasis on ipsilateral-hand and axial tremor subscores.

Tremor scores and adverse effects of 100 patients treated between 2012 and 2018 were assessed at 1 week, 3, 12, and 24 months. A subgroup analysis of ipsilateral-hand tremor responders (defined as patients with ≥30% improvement at any time point) and non-responders was performed. Correlations and predictive factors for improvement were analysed. Weighted probabilistic maps of improvement were generated.

Significant improvement in axial, contralateral-hand and total tremor scores was observed at all study visits from baseline (p<0.0001). There was no significant improvement in ipsilateral subscores. A subset of patients (n=20) exhibited group-level ipsilateral-hand improvement that remained significant through all follow-ups (p<0.001). Multivariate regression analysis revealed that higher baseline scores predict better improvement in ipsilateral-hand and axial tremor. Probabilistic maps demonstrated that the lesion hotspot for axial improvement was situated more medially than that for contralateral improvement.

MRgFUS significantly improved axial, contralateral-hand and total tremor scores. In a subset of patients, a consistent group-level treatment effect was observed for ipsilateral-hand tremor. While ipsilateral improvement seemed to be less directly related to lesion location, a spatial relationship between lesion location and axial and contralateral improvement was observed that proved consistent with the somatotopic organisation of the ventral intermediate nucleus.