A proposed model of the development of suicidal ideations

Yari Gvion, Netta Horesh, Yossi Levi-Belz, Alan Apter
Comprehensive Psychiatry 2015, 56: 93-102

BACKGROUND: Suicidal ideations may precede suicide attempts. They are of particular concern in psychiatric populations because psychopathology is a major risk factor for suicide. The factors affecting the development of suicide ideations may differ among psychiatric patients with and without a previous suicide attempt and individuals without a psychiatric diagnosis.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study is to develop a model of suicide ideation in psychiatric patients and the general population.

METHOD: The study included 196 participants: 92 psychiatric patients with a previous suicide attempt ("attempters"); 47 psychiatric patients who had never attempted suicide ("non-attempters"); and 57 healthy control subjects. Data were collected on socio-demographic parameters, clinical history, and details of the suicide attempts. Participants completed a battery of psychological instruments assessing aggression-impulsivity, mental pain (including depression and hopelessness) and communication difficulties, in addition to negative life events. Findings were correlated with suicidal ideation by group.

RESULTS: The correlations of the different variables with suicidal ideation differed between suicide attempters and non-attempters; therefore, the model was analyzed separately for each group. The study yielded three major findings: negative life events had a significant effect on both anger-in and impulsivity in non-attempters but not in attempters; hopelessness moderately contributed to suicidal ideations in attempters but not in non-attempters; loneliness contributed significantly to depression in non-attempters but was less distressing in attempters.

CONCLUSION: The mechanism underlying suicidal ideation appears to differ between psychiatric patients who have previously attempted suicide and those who have not, supporting a dual model of suicidal ideation. Although this is only a preliminary study, these findings are important for furthering our understanding of the process of transition of suicidal thoughts to completion of suicide. These results need further replication with a larger cohort of subjects.

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