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A Profile of Medically Serious Suicide Attempts

J Clin Psychiatry 1996;57:567-572

Background: This study identified factors associated with medically serious suicide attempts (requiring medical hospitalization).

Method: Demographic information, current psychiatric mental state, suicide attempt and psychiatric history characteristics, and DSM-IV diagnoses were compared between 65 patients hospitalized for a medically serious suicide attempt (MSSA) and 32 patients seen in the emergency room for suicide attempt but not medically hospitalized (NMSSA).

Results: Those with MSSAs had a higher rate of substance-induced mood disorder (but not substance abuse or dependence), while those with NMSSA had more attempts, more years since first attempt, and a higher rate of sexual and physical abuse, traumatic life events, borderline personality disorder, and bipolar disorder.

Conclusion: Substance-induced mood disorder is an important diagnosis in the evaluation of suicidal patients. The vulnerability of mood effects caused by substance abuse may lead to a more serious suicide attempt despite less extensive psychiatric problems. The most important early psychiatric intervention may be the immediate recognition and aggressive treatment of an individual’s affective and substance use disorders.