Suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and HIV infection

B Kelly, B Raphael, F Judd, M Perdices, G Kernutt, P Burnett, M Dunne, G Burrows
Psychosomatics 1998, 39 (5): 405-15
A cross-sectional study was performed to investigate the prevalence and predictors of suicidal ideation and past suicide attempt in an Australian sample of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive and HIV-negative homosexual and bisexual men. Sixty-five HIV-negative and 164 HIV-positive men participated. A suicidal ideation score was derived from using five items selected from the Beck Depression Inventory and the General Health Questionnaire (28-item version). Lifetime and current prevalence rates of psychiatric disorder were evaluated with the Diagnostic Interview Schedule Version-III-R. The HIV-positive (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] Stage IV) men (n = 85) had significantly higher total suicidal ideation scores than the asymptomatic HIV-positive men (CDC Stage II/III) (n = 79) and the HIV-negative men. High rates of past suicide attempt were detected in the HIV-negative (29%) and HIV-positive men (21%). Factors associated with suicidal ideation included being HIV-positive, the presence of current psychiatric disorder, higher neuroticism scores, external locus of control, and current unemployment. In the HIV-positive group analyzed separately, higher suicidal ideation was discriminated by the adjustment to HIV diagnosis (greater hopelessness and lower fighting spirit), disease factors (greater number of current acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS]-related conditions), and background variables (neuroticism). Significant predictors of a past attempted suicide were a positive lifetime history of psychiatric disorder (particularly depression diagnoses), a lifetime history of infection drug use, and a family history of suicide attempts. The findings indicate increased levels of suicidal ideation in symptomatic HIV-positive men and highlight the role that multiple psychosocial factors associated with suicidal ideation and attempted suicide play in this population.

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