Perceived loneliness and social support in bipolar disorder: relation to suicidal ideation and attempts

Chelsea K. Pike, Katherine E. Burdick, Caitlin Millett, Jessica M. Lipschitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The suicide rate in bipolar disorder (BD) is among the highest across all psychiatric disorders. Identifying modifiable variables that relate to suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs) in BD may inform prevention strategies. Social connectedness is a modifiable variable found to relate to STBs in the general population, but differences exist across subgroups of the general population and findings specifically in BD have been equivocal. We aimed to clarify how perceived social connectedness relates to STBs in BD. Method: 146 adults (86 BD, 60 healthy controls) completed clinical interviews (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale; Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-5) and self-report measures of loneliness (UCLA Loneliness Scale) and social support (Interpersonal Support Evaluation List). Analyses explored differences in indicators of social connectedness (loneliness and social support) between BD participants and healthy controls, and explored relationships between STBs (lifetime suicide attempts and current suicidal ideation) and indicators of social connectedness in BD participants. Results: BD participants reported significantly higher loneliness and lower social support than healthy controls. In BD participants, perceived social support was significantly related to both ever having attempted suicide and number of lifetime attempts. Interestingly, perceived loneliness, but not social support, was significantly associated with current suicidal ideation. Conclusions: Findings expand the evidence base supporting a relationship between perceived social connectedness and STBs in BD. They suggest that this modifiable variable could be a fruitful treatment target for preventing STBs in BD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalInternational Journal of Bipolar Disorders
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Loneliness
  • Social support
  • Suicide

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