Predicting future suicide attempts among depressed suicide ideators: a 10-year longitudinal study

Alexis M May, E David Klonsky, Daniel N Klein
Journal of Psychiatric Research 2012, 46 (7): 946-52
Suicidal ideation and attempts are a major public health problem. Research has identified many risk factors for suicidality; however, most fail to identify which suicide ideators are at greatest risk of progressing to a suicide attempt. Thus, the present study identified predictors of future suicide attempts in a sample of psychiatric patients reporting suicidal ideation. The sample comprised 49 individuals who met full DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder and/or dysthymic disorder and reported suicidal ideation at baseline. Participants were followed for 10 years. Demographic, psychological, personality, and psychosocial risk factors were assessed using validated questionnaires and structured interviews. Phi coefficients and point-biserial correlations were used to identify prospective predictors of attempts, and logistic regressions were used to identify which variables predicted future attempts over and above past suicide attempts. Six significant predictors of future suicide attempts were identified - cluster A personality disorder, cluster B personality disorder, lifetime substance abuse, baseline anxiety disorder, poor maternal relationship, and poor social adjustment. Finally, exploratory logistic regressions were used to examine the unique contribution of each significant predictor controlling for the others. Comorbid cluster B personality disorder emerged as the only robust, unique predictor of future suicide attempts among depressed suicide ideators. Future research should continue to identify variables that predict transition from suicidal thoughts to suicide attempts, as such work will enhance clinical assessment of suicide risk as well as theoretical models of suicide.

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