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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2011 Oct;199(10):750-6. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31822fcd38.

Personality subtypes of adolescents who attempt suicide.

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Department of Psychology, Emory University, 36 Eagle Row, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Research suggests that personality pathology is shared among a considerable portion of adolescents presenting suicidal behavior. Furthermore, heterogeneity of personality within this population suggests a need to tease apart different types of attempters. The goal of this study was to identify the personality subtypes of adolescents who attempt suicide. We analyzed data on 266 adolescents, ages 13 to 18 years, with a history of at least one suicide attempt who were selected by treating clinicians for having at least some degree of personality problems. We used a Q-factor analysis to identify subtypes based on the Shedler-Westen Assessment Procedure-II for Adolescents (a 200-item measure of personality pathology used by clinically experienced observers). We derived six subtypes: Externalizing, Internalizing, Emotionally dysregulated, High functioning, Narcissistic, and Immature. The subtypes differed on measures of adaptive functioning, axis I and II pathology, and etiology. Adolescents who attempt suicide constitute a heterogeneous group, and they vary meaningfully on a measure of personality pathology. Interventions targeting suicidal behaviors in adolescents should consider individual differences.

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