Personality traits and suicidal behavior and ideation in depressed inpatients 50 years of age and older

P R Duberstein, Y Conwell, L Seidlitz, D G Denning, C Cox, E D Caine
Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 2000, 55 (1): P18-26
Completed suicide may be the most preventable lethal complication of depressive disorders in older adults. Identification of risk factors for suicidal behavior has therefore become a major public health priority. Using data collected on 81 depressed patients 50 years of age and older, we report analyses designed to determine the associations between the personality traits that constitute the Five Factor Model of personality and measures of suicidal behavior and ideation. We hypothesized that low Extraversion would be associated with a lifetime history of attempted suicide, and high Neuroticism would be associated with suicidal ideation. Results were generally consistent with the hypotheses. We also observed a relationship between Openness to Experience and suicidal ideation. These findings suggest that longstanding patterns of behaving, thinking, and feeling contribute to suicidal behavior and thoughts in older adults and highlight the need to consider personality traits in crafting and targeting prevention strategies.


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