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Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2001 Fall;31(3):311-9.

Stressful life events and impulsiveness in failed suicide.

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Group Health Permanente, Seattle, Washington, USA.


The relationship of recent stressful life events with impulsiveness in triggering suicide attempts and how impulsiveness changes from one suicide attempt to another is unclear. This study used structured-interview tools and standardized measurements to examine the relationship between life stress and impulsiveness in a sample of patients who required hospitalization for a medically serious suicide attempt. After controlling for potentially confounding variables, the number of disrupted interpersonal relationships in the preceding year was a significant predictor of the impulsiveness of the suicide attempt, with three or more losses (but not other life stresses) associated with less impulsive attempts (T = 2.4, p = .02). Female gender (T = -1.98, p = .05) and lifetime DMS-III-R diagnoses (T = -2.45, p = .02) were significantly associated with more impulsive attempts. In 55 patients with at least two suicide attempts, impulsiveness, lethal intent, and communication of intent were significantly greater for the present compared to the prior attempt (p = 0.000). Certain stressful life events, gender, and total lifetime DSM-III-R diagnoses are associated with impulsiveness of failed suicide attempts; yet, impulsiveness is not necessarily consistent from one suicide attempt to another. This evidence supports and amplifies a stress-diathesis model of suicide behavior. Accordingly, efforts to increase personal resilience in individuals who have "failed suicide" may be more effective at preventing suicide morbidity than simple stress-reduction measures alone.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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