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Psychiatry Res. 2017 Oct;256:345-352. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.06.078. Epub 2017 Jun 27.

The role of stressful life events preceding death by suicide: Evidence from two samples of suicide decedents.

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Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32301, United States. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32301, United States.
Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08854, United States.


Stressful life events (SLEs) are associated with increased risk for suicidal behavior. Less is known regarding the intensity of SLEs and how this may vary as a function of suicide attempt history. As a large percentage of suicide decedents do not have a history of suicidal behavior, SLEs precipitating suicide may help characterize suicidality in this understudied population. This paper examines the intensity, number, and accumulation of SLEs preceding death by suicide among decedents with varying suicide attempt histories. Suicide attempts, SLEs, and suicide methods were examined in two samples: 62 prison-based and 117 community-based suicide decedents. Regression was used to compare the level of stressor precipitating death by suicide in decedents who died on a first attempt versus multiple previous attempts. A non-significant trend was observed in the prison population which was supported by significant findings in the community-based sample. Decedents who died on a first attempt experienced a stressor of a lower magnitude when compared to decedents with multiple previous suicide attempts. We discuss the implications of these findings in relation to the stress-diathesis model for suicide.


Prisons; Stress; Suicide

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