[YSPNetwork] FYI: article: Impulsiveness & the Risk of Suicide Attempts
donna.noonan at state.or.us
Thu Jun 30 13:29:14 PDT 2011
>From this week's Spark (www.sprc.org), an interesting article:
Impulsiveness and the Risk of Suicide Attempts
Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior
A recent study found that one aspect of impulsivity, urgency, was
associated with a higher risk of both suicidal ideation and suicide
attempts. However, only a lack of premeditation (another aspect of
impulsiveness) distinguished young people who reported that they had
suffered suicidal ideation and had attempted suicide from young people
who reported ideation, but had not attempted suicide. The authors
suggest that their findings revealed the importance of using screening
tools that can differentiate among several aspects of impulsivity rather
than tools that measure impulsivity as a single trait. The research was
designed to explore the widely held belief that impulsive people are
more likely to attempt suicide than others. The researchers explored
this question with two samples.
The first sample included more than 2,500 military recruits (average
age 20). The recruits completed questionnaires that assessed their
history of suicidal ideation and attempts, as well as their impulsivity,
using a unidimensional definition for impulsivity. The results revealed
that participants with histories of suicide attempts or ideation were
significantly more impulsive than those with no history of attempts or
ideation. However, there was no difference in impulsivity between those
who had attempted suicide and those who reported ideation, but had not
attempted to take their own lives.
The second sample included approximately 1,700 college and high school
students. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey was used to document suicide
attempts and ideation. In contrast to the military sample, the students
were assessed for four different personality traits associated with
(1) urgency (the *tendency to give in to strong impulses when
experiencing intense negative emotions*)
(2) lack of perseverance (an inability *to persist in completing jobs
or obligations despite boredom or fatigue*)
(3) lack of premeditation (an inability *to think through the potential
consequences of behavior before acting*)
(4) sensation seeking (a *preference for excitement and stimulation*).
The results revealed that that only the lack of premeditation*that is,
an inability to think through the consequences of their actions*was
uniquely associated with attempts but not ideation, and thus could be
used to indicate which young people suffering from ideation might be at
most risk for attempting suicide. Both attempters and ideators were
characterized by high urgency. Neither attempters nor ideators-only were
characterized by high sensation-seeking or lack of perseverance.
The authors suggest that *the diminished ability to think through the
consequences of one*s behavior before acting confers risk for suicidal
behavior over and above the presence of suicidal thoughts. Because many
psychiatric patients experience suicidal ideation, this aspect of
impulsivity may carry extra importance in suicide risk assessments.*
Klonsky, E., & May, A. (2010). Rethinking Impulsivity in Suicide.
Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 40(6), 612-619.
Link to Abstract ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21198330 )
If you would like a copy of the full article, please let me know.
Donna G. Noonan, MPH, CHES
Youth Suicide Prevention Coordinator
Injury Prevention & Epidemiology Program
Oregon Public Health Division
800 NE Oregon, Ste 772
Portland, OR 97232
donna.noonan at state.or.us
Join YSPNetwork, Youth Suicide Prevention listserv for the Pacific
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