Depressed multiple-suicide attempters - A high-risk phenotype

Leo Sher, Michael F. Grunebaum, Ainsley K. Burke, Sadia Chaudhury, J. John Mann, Maria A. Oquendo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: There is compelling evidence that suicide attempts are among the strongest predictors of suicide and future suicide attempts. Aim: This study aimed to examine psychopathology in multiple-suicide attempters. Method: We compared the demographic and clinical features of three groups: depressed patients without a history of suicide attempts (non-attempters), depressed patients with a history of one to three suicide attempts (attempters), and depressed patients with a history of four or more suicide attempts (multiple attempters). Results: We found that attempters and multiple attempters had higher levels of depression, hopelessness, aggression, hostility, and impulsivity and were more likely to have borderline personality disorder and family history of major depression or alcohol use disorder compared with non-attempters, but did not differ between each other on these measures. Multiple attempters had greater suicidal ideation at study entry and were more likely to have family history of suicide attempt compared with attempters. Importantly, multiple attempters had greater suicide intent at the time of the most medically serious suicide attempt and more serious medical consequences during their most medically serious suicide attempt compared with attempters. Limitations: The cross-sectional design of the study. Conclusion: Our data suggest that multiple-suicide attempters require careful evaluation as their behavior can have serious medical consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-375
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsivity
  • Suicide


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