February 2nd 2013, Research paper 1
Sleepwalking and its suicidal effects.
Despite its name, sleepwalking, which can also be called somnambulism actually involves more than just walking. Sleepwalking behaviors can range from harmless sitting up in bed, to potentially dangerous activities such as wandering outside or even death. Sleepwalking is also known to provoke inappropriate behavior.
Imagine waking up in the middle of a dark night and finding yourself walking down a back road. Imagine waking up in the morning and having a family member missing from your house? Imagine waking up in the morning only to see your boyfriend hanging from the ceiling.
Have you ever wondered what sleepwalkers actually do? Well, all three of these scenarios can occur during sleepwalking. Research has found that 18% of the world's population is prone to sleepwalking? You may not even be aware but there is a large possibility you are part of that 18% or someone in your family is. Prevention of sleepwalking is next to impossible and it is a disorder obtained naturally through genetics. What would you do if you found someone sleepwalking and about to commit a suicidal act? During sleepwalking normally an individual’s eyes are open with a glassy, staring appearance as the person quietly roams the house or wanders outside. On questioning, responses are slow or absent. It is very common among sleepwalkers to unlock doors in the need to go outside to meet someone or collect something. Statistics today show that somewhere between 7% and 19.7% of U.S. children sleepwalk. The trend of sleepwalking is much higher among children than it is for adults. Between the ages of three and seven is the most common age for sleepwalking. There is also a higher instance of sleepwalking among children who wet the bed and have difficulties getting to sleep.
In the book “Sleepless Dreams”, the author Paul Davies states and signifies the dangers of sleepwalking to the sufferer. He explains the risk of sufferers causing themselves severe injury or even death and shows common activities of a sleepwalker. “Sleepwalkers act out various activities such as cleaning, cooking, folding laundry, driving and many more.” Sleepwalking disorder is one of several sleep disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, often called DSM-IV-TR, produced by the American Psychiatric Association and used by most mental health professionals in North America and Europe to diagnose mental disorders. NBC News published an article titled “Suicide while sleepwalking is a real nightmare”, written by M. Bonneman showed the tragic results of sleepwalking. The article states “A man jumps out a fifth-story window. A woman marches into oncoming traffic. Another woman loads a gun and shoots herself. All appear to be open-and-shut cases of suicide, but, then again, maybe not. In rare cases, such deaths could be caused by something called parasomnia pseudo-suicide, experts say.” To come to terms with these horrific cases is petrifying and to know this could happen to any of us or a close friend or family member is tramautizing. Bonneman’s article also mentioned a recent case that was published in the New York Times about a young designer named Tobias Wong hanged himself at his house in New York City during his sleep on May 30th. He had previous history of sleepwalking, which included acts such as cooking, billing clients, or creating costumes for his cats. Under a lot of stress from work his sleepwalking condition got worse and ended his life in such a dramatic way.
Studies have shown that sleepwalking is most often initiated during deep sleep but may occur in the lighter sleep stages or NREM, usually within a few hours of falling asleep. In addition to walking during deep sleep, other symptoms of sleepwalking include sleep talking,…