Impulsivity and aggression as predictors of suicide attempts in alcoholics

G Koller, U W Preuss, M Bottlender, K Wenzel, M Soyka
European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience 2002, 252 (4): 155-60

INTRODUCTION: The aim of this study was to assess the potential role of impulsive and aggressive behavior in the pathogenesis of suicide attempts in alcoholics. Impulsive and aggressive behavior as well as a psychiatric comorbidity with depressive conditions and personality disorders have been reported to be significant risk factors for suicide attempts in alcoholics. We hypothesized that alcoholics with a history of violent suicide attempts show an increased level of impulsive and aggressive behavior. Furthermore, the potential influence of concurrent personality disorders and depressive conditions were assessed.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: 182 detoxified alcohol-dependent subjects were enrolled into the study. Impulsive and aggressive traits were assessed using the Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory and the Brown-Goodwin Assessment for Lifetime History of Aggression, personality disorders using the SCID II. Characteristics of alcohol dependence and suicide attempts were evaluated using the Semi-Structured Assessment on Genetics in Alcoholism (SSAGA).

RESULTS: Alcohol-dependent subjects with a history of suicidal behavior show a profile with higher impulsive and aggressive behavior. No significant association between these traits and concurrent borderline and antisocial personality disorder was found. Subjects with suicide attempts tended to have a significantly higher rate of depressive disorders.

DISCUSSION: These results suggest that impulsive and aggressive traits might contribute significantly to the risk of suicide attempts in alcoholics.

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