A Comprehensive Model of Predictors of Suicide Attempt in Depressed Individuals and Effect of Treatment-Seeking Behavior: Results From a National 3-Year Prospective Study

Article Abstract

Objective: Multiple factors have an impact on the risk of attempting suicide in depressed individuals. The elevated number of contributing factors and their frequent co-occurrence suggest the need to combine them in integrative models to develop more effective suicide prevention strategies. This report presents a comprehensive model of the 3-year risk of suicide attempt in individuals with major depressive episode (MDE) using a longitudinal nationally representative study, the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC; Wave 1, 2001-2002; Wave 2, 2004-2005).

Methods: Structural equation modeling was used to simultaneously examine effects of 4 broad groups of clinical factors previously identified as potential predictors of suicide attempts: (1) severity of depressive illness, (2) severity of psychiatric and other physical comorbidity, (3) sociodemographic characteristics, and (4) treatment-seeking behavior.

Results: About 3.5% of the 2,587 participants with a DSM-IV diagnosis of MDE attempted suicide during the 3-year follow-up period. Several factors predicted attempted suicide independently of each other: the absence of treatment-seeking behavior for MDE, the severity of the depressive illness (ie, recurrent thoughts of death, prior suicide attempts, and severity of the general depressive symptom dimension representing the joint effect of most depressive symptoms), and the severity of comorbidities (ie, severity of the general psychopathology factor representing the mechanisms shared across all comorbid psychiatric disorders and lower mental health-related quality of life). No sociodemographic characteristics independently contributed to this risk.

Conclusions: This model may help identify high-risk individuals with MDE and inform future research on risk of suicide.

J Clin Psychiatry 2018;79(5):17m11704

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Volume: 79

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