Chronic suicidality among patients with borderline personality disorder

Joel Paris
Psychiatric Services: a Journal of the American Psychiatric Association 2002, 53 (6): 738-42

OBJECTIVE: This paper reviews research on chronic suicidality among patients with borderline personality disorder.

METHODS: MEDLINE and PsycINFO databases were searched for all English-language articles published between 1984 and 2000 containing the keywords "borderline personality disorder" and "suicide" or "suicidality." A total of 170 articles located through this search and additional key articles published before 1990 were reviewed. The most relevant articles were selected of review.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: One in ten patients with borderline personality disorder completes suicide, but this outcome is not readily preventable and does not necessarily occur during the course of treatment. In outpatient psychotherapy, chronic suicidal behavior by patients with borderline personality disorder can be best understood as a way of communicating distress. Hospitalization is of unproven value in preventing suicide by these patients and can sometimes have negative effects. Clinicians' fear of potential litigation resulting from a completed suicide should not be the basis for admission. With no evidence that full hospitalization prevents suicide completion by patients with borderline personality, suicidal risk is not a contraindication for day hospital treatment.

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