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Psychol Med. 2017 Oct;47(13):2334-2344. doi: 10.1017/S003329171700085X. Epub 2017 Apr 11.

Clarifying the role of neuroticism in suicidal ideation and suicide attempt among women with major depressive disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry,Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics,Virginia Commonwealth University,Richmond,VA,USA.
Department of Psychiatry,University of California at Los Angeles,Los Angeles,CA,USA.



Prior research consistently demonstrates that neuroticism increases risk for suicidal ideation, but the association between neuroticism and suicidal behavior has been inconsistent. Whereas neuroticism is recommended as an endophenotype for suicidality, the association of neuroticism with attempted suicide warrants clarification. In particular, prior research has not distinguished between correlates of attempted suicide, correlates of suicidal ideation, and correlates of comorbid psychopathology.


The present study used the CONVERGE study, a sample of 5864 women with major depressive disorder (MD) and 5783 women without MD throughout China. Diagnoses, suicidal ideation, and attempted suicide were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). Neuroticism was assessed with the neuroticism portion of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire.


Results replicate prior findings on the correlates of suicidal ideation, particularly elevated neuroticism among individuals who report prior suicidal ideation. Moreover, as compared with individuals who reported having experienced only suicidal ideation, neuroticism was associated with decreased likelihood of having attempted suicide.


The association of neuroticism with suicidality is more complicated than has been previously described. Whereas neuroticism increases risk for suicidal ideation, neuroticism may decrease risk for a suicide attempt among individuals with suicidal ideation. These results have implications for the assessment of risk for a suicide attempt among individuals who report suicidal ideation and addresses prior discordant findings by clarifying the association between neuroticism and attempted suicide.


major depression; neuroticism; suicidal ideation; suicide; suicide attempt

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