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Compr Psychiatry. 2017 Aug;77:20-26. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2017.05.005. Epub 2017 May 18.

The persistent shadow of suicide ideation and attempts in a high-risk group of psychiatric patients: A focus for intervention.

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Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, MA. Electronic address:
Veterans Health Care of the Ozarks, Fayetteville, AR.
Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT.
Austen Riggs Center, Stockbridge, MA.
Yale University School of Medicine and Austen Riggs Center.



Patients with a history of suicidal ideation or attempts, especially if they have serious psychopathology with repeated hospitalizations, are burdened by ongoing risk for suicide. We studied this high-risk group to assess their psychological status following their most recent suicide attempt, in contrast to equally ill patients without a suicide history. Further, among suicidal patients, we compared those with only ideation, with a non-medically serious suicide attempt and with medically serious suicide attempts. We also report on the development of a new measure of psychic pain.


Patients in residential treatment (n=131) completed self-report questionnaires about suicide history, impulsiveness, psychic pain, resilience, and reasons for living. A series of univariate ordinal logistic regressions identified variables to include in a multivariable logistic regression to examine the odds associated with increasing levels of suicidality.


A history of suicidal ideation or suicide attempts is associated with proportionally more psychic pain and fewer current reasons for living. Prior history of abuse, impulsiveness, and general resilience were not significantly associated with suicidal severity.


For patients who have suicidal ideation, or have attempted suicide, and also have additional risk factors including past hospitalization, treatments should include both understanding the sources of psychic pain and promoting individual discovery of reasons for living.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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