Social support against suicide in burn survivors: A vital but overlooked protective factor

Article Type : Correspondence

Authors

1 Department of Medical-Surgical Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

To the Editor

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with more than 20 suicide attempts for every suicide death, causing significant suffering and a financial burden [1, 2]. Individuals with chronic health conditions, particularly those experiencing chronic pain, are at a higher risk of developing suicidal ideation and behavior, including attempted suicide [2]. Due to the nature of their injuries, the extensive rehabilitation period, and the psychological and physical ramifications, burn victims may be at a disproportionately elevated risk of developing suicidal tendencies and psychiatric comorbidities [3-5]. Sustaining a burn injury is often a distressing and traumatic experience that can result in high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, which may persist for years after the initial injury. In addition, caring for burn injuries often involves extended hospitalization and painful procedures, including multiple surgeries and wound debridement [6]. The painful procedures used in treating burn wounds, such as numerous surgeries, wound debridement, and mobilization, can prolong hospital stays and cause extra trauma [7-10]. Burn survivors have a protracted rehabilitation process even after being released from acute care [5, 11]. The recuperation process after a burn injury typically involves adapting to physical constraints and alterations in body image and appearance, which can cause emotional anguish [4, 12]. Although burn survivors have some suicide risk factors, few studies on resiliency or other protective variables [13]; one of the most effective preventive factors for suicide is social support and social connections. Individuals who have experienced burn injuries may encounter obstacles in obtaining and retaining social support due to physical changes and visible scarring, which can result in social isolation due to emotions such as self-consciousness, shame, and exclusion [14]. Only research on young burn survivors has examined the relationship between social support and suicide risk, and this relationship has been interpreted as perceived familial closeness [15-17]. Despite the fact that burn patients often report feelings of loneliness and social isolation, no research studies have investigated whether these factors are linked to suicidality in burn survivors.

Overall, despite the critical role of social support in preventing suicide in burn survivors, few researchers have addressed this issue. Thus, it is advisable to conduct evidence-based investigations into the impact of social support on the suicidal tendencies of individuals who have suffered burn injuries.

 

Acknowledgements

Not applicable.

 

Authors’ contributions

Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work: AZK, AMB, AD, MS, MJG; Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content: AZK, AMB, AD, MS, MJG; Final approval of the version to be published: AZK, AMB, AD, MS, MJG; Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved: AZK, AMB, AD, MS, MJG.

 

Funding

Self-funded.

 

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.

 

Competing interests

We do not have potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and publication of this article.

 

Using artificial intelligent chatbots

None.

 

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (CC BY-NC 4.0).

© 2023 The Author(s).

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Volume 2, Issue 1
January 2024
Pages 45-46
  • Receive Date: 23 March 2023
  • Revise Date: 17 June 2023
  • Accept Date: 19 June 2023
  • First Publish Date: 25 June 2023
  • Publish Date: 25 June 2023