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Personality traits of subjects attempting suicide: results of the Zurich study


Angst, J; Gamma, A; Ajdacic-Gross, V; Rössler, W (2008). Personality traits of subjects attempting suicide: results of the Zurich study. Aspects of Affect, 3(1):315-321.

Abstract

Objectives: to compare the personality characteristics of suicide attempters with non-attempters, first in the whole sample and then among subjects with major depressive episoded (MDE)
Method: a representative cohort of the population was studied over 20 years from age 20/21 to 40/41 by six interviews and the Symptom Checklist SCL-90 R for self-assessment. Suicidality was assessed in an independent interview section. MDE was diagnosed by DSM-III-R criteria.
Results: The weighted lifetime prevalence for suicide attempts was 6.3% (women 7.7%, men 4.9%). 50 of 72 (69%) subjects attempting suicide were diagnosed with MDE and another 18% with minor affective disorders. But only 23.8% of 101 major depressives and only 28.1% of bipolar-II subjects attempted suicide. Compared to others, subjects attempting suicide were in their personality often depressed, with low self-esteem and mastery and high neuroticism scores. In addition they were more irritable/impulsive and aggressive towards others and manifested more conduct problems at school age and higher rates of antisocial personality disorders. Among subjects with MDE most of these findings were replicated, but the differences to non-suicidal subjects were smaller than to controls.
Conclusions: The majority of depressives do not attempt suicide. About 25% of subjects suffering from depression had attempted suicide by the age of 40. These subjects were characterised by a combination of externalising (impulsivity, aggression, conduct problems) and internalising characteristics (depressive personality, high neuroticism, poor coping skills and low self-esteem).

Key words: suicide attempts, personality, major depressive episodes, epidemiology

Abstract

Objectives: to compare the personality characteristics of suicide attempters with non-attempters, first in the whole sample and then among subjects with major depressive episoded (MDE)
Method: a representative cohort of the population was studied over 20 years from age 20/21 to 40/41 by six interviews and the Symptom Checklist SCL-90 R for self-assessment. Suicidality was assessed in an independent interview section. MDE was diagnosed by DSM-III-R criteria.
Results: The weighted lifetime prevalence for suicide attempts was 6.3% (women 7.7%, men 4.9%). 50 of 72 (69%) subjects attempting suicide were diagnosed with MDE and another 18% with minor affective disorders. But only 23.8% of 101 major depressives and only 28.1% of bipolar-II subjects attempted suicide. Compared to others, subjects attempting suicide were in their personality often depressed, with low self-esteem and mastery and high neuroticism scores. In addition they were more irritable/impulsive and aggressive towards others and manifested more conduct problems at school age and higher rates of antisocial personality disorders. Among subjects with MDE most of these findings were replicated, but the differences to non-suicidal subjects were smaller than to controls.
Conclusions: The majority of depressives do not attempt suicide. About 25% of subjects suffering from depression had attempted suicide by the age of 40. These subjects were characterised by a combination of externalising (impulsivity, aggression, conduct problems) and internalising characteristics (depressive personality, high neuroticism, poor coping skills and low self-esteem).

Key words: suicide attempts, personality, major depressive episodes, epidemiology

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Clinical and Social Psychiatry Zurich West (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:04 Feb 2009 08:01
Last Modified:06 Dec 2017 15:36
Publisher:RPA Publications
ISSN:1746-4986
Official URL:http://www.aspofaff.org/xcart/product.php?productid=95&cat=0&page=1

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