Time to emergence of severe suicidal ideation among psychiatric patients as a function of suicide attempt history

Margaret S Andover, Brandon E Gibb, Ivan W Miller
Comprehensive Psychiatry 2008, 49 (1): 6-12

BACKGROUND: Little is known about the emergence of suicidal ideation among psychiatric inpatients with histories of no, single, or multiple suicide attempts. We investigated differences in time to reemergence of severe suicidal ideation among psychiatric patients as a function of their suicide attempt histories.

METHOD: One hundred seventeen individuals meeting criteria for a major depressive disorder who were recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital and participating in a larger study of treatments for depression were included in the current study. Suicidal ideation, depressive symptoms, hopelessness, and depressogenic cognitions were assessed at baseline, and suicidal ideation was assessed at 3-, 6-, 12-, and 18-month follow-up, as well as inpatient readmission if applicable. Time to the reemergence of severe suicidal ideation was analyzed using survival analysis.

RESULTS: Twenty-two percent of our sample reported the occurrence of severe suicidal ideation over an 18-month period. Severe suicidal ideation emerged earlier among patients who had a history of prior suicide attempts than those who did not, but single and multiple suicide attempters did not differ significantly in time to severe suicidal ideation. Suicide attempt history remained a significant predictor of time to severe suicidal ideation when statistically controlling for hopelessness, depressive symptoms, depressogenic cognitions, and suicidal ideation at admission and initial treatment group assignment, especially between single attempters and nonattempters.

CONCLUSIONS: Although nearly a quarter of participants endorsed severe, clinically significant suicidal ideation within 18 months of discharge, those with suicide attempt histories reported the occurrence of severe suicidal ideation significantly earlier than those without suicide attempt histories.

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