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Am J Public Health. 2010 Dec;100(12):2473-80. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2010.192252.

Population-attributable fractions of Axis I and Axis II mental disorders for suicide attempts: findings from a representative sample of the adult, noninstitutionalized US population.

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  • 1Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.



We aimed to determine the percentage of suicide attempts attributable to individual Axis I and Axis II mental disorders by studying population-attributable fractions (PAFs) in a nationally representative sample.


Data were from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions Wave 2 (NESARC; 2004-2005), a large (N = 34 653) survey of mental illness in the United States. We used multivariate logistic regression to compare individuals with and without a history of suicide attempt across Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Axis I disorders (anxiety, mood, psychotic, alcohol, and drug disorders) and all 10 Axis II personality disorders. PAFs were calculated for each disorder.


Of the 25 disorders we examined in the model, 4 disorders had notably high PAF values: major depressive disorder (PAF = 26.6%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 20.1, 33.2), borderline personality disorder (PAF = 18.1%; 95% CI = 13.4, 23.5), nicotine dependence (PAF = 8.4%; 95% CI = 3.4, 13.7), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PAF = 6.3%; 95% CI = 3.2, 10.0).


Our results provide new insight into the relationships between mental disorders and suicide attempts in the general population. Although many mental illnesses were associated with an increased likelihood of suicide attempt, elevated rates of suicide attempts were mostly attributed to the presence of 4 disorders.

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