The role of impulsivity in self-mutilators, suicide ideators and suicide attempters - a study of 1265 male incarcerated individuals

Vladimir Carli, Nikolina Jovanović, Anja Podlesek, Alec Roy, Zoltan Rihmer, Stefania Maggi, Dragan Marusic, Caterina Cesaro, Andrej Marusic, Marco Sarchiapone
Journal of Affective Disorders 2010, 123 (1): 116-22

OBJECTIVE: We explored differences between high and low-impulsive incarcerated individuals in the context of lifetime self-mutilation, suicide ideation and suicide attempt.

METHODS: A total of 1265 males detained in Italian penitentiary institutions were studied between January 2006 and December 2008. The study raters were specifically trained to discriminate between suicide attempters, ideators and self-mutilators. Participants completed the Barratt Impulsivity Scale, Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ), Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC), Brown-Goodwin Assessment for Lifetime History of Aggression (BGLHA) and Buss and Durkee Hostility Inventory (BDHI). Based on BIS 7 total score distribution, two extreme quarters - high-impulsive group (n=306) and low-impulsive group (n=285) - were compared.

RESULTS: Over 42% of participants had lifetime suicide ideation, 13% attempted suicide and 17% were self-mutilators. High-impulsive subjects were younger, more often single and with more prominent psychoticism, extraversion, aggression, hostility and resilience capacity. They were more frequently diagnosed with substance use disorders and engaged in self-mutilating behaviour. There was no difference in the rate of suicide attempts between the two groups.

CONCLUSION: Although high-impulsive subjects were more prone to suicidal behaviour, it was not predicted by higher impulsivity when other psychological variables were accounted for.

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