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Original Research

Suicidal Ideation and Suicide Attempts in Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Katharine A. Phillips, MD; Meredith E. Coles, PhD; William Menard, BA; Shirley Yen, PhD; Christina Fay, BA; and Risa B. Weisberg, PhD

Published: June 15, 2005

Article Abstract

Objective: Because suicidality in body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) has received little investigation, this study examined rates, correlates, predictors, and other aspects of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in this disorder.

Method: From January 2001 to June 2003, 200 subjects with DSM-IV BDD recruited from diverse sources were assessed with standard measures.

Results: Subjects had high rates of lifetime suicidal ideation (78.0%) and suicide attempts (27.5%). Body dysmorphic disorder was the primary reason for suicidal ideation in 70.5% of those with a history of ideation and nearly half of subjects with a past attempt. Suicidal subjects often did not reveal their BDD symptoms to their clinician. In univariate analyses, both suicidal ideation and suicide attempts were associated with lifetime functional impairment due to BDD (p < .001), current functional impairment (p < .001 to < .05), lifetime bipolar disorder (p < .05), any personality disorder (p < .05 to .001), and comorbid borderline personality disorder (p < .01 to < .001). A history of suicidal ideation (but not suicide attempts) was additionally associated with comorbid lifetime major depression (p = .001). A history of suicide attempts (but not suicidal ideation) was additionally associated with delusional appearance beliefs (p = .01) and lifetime posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an eating disorder, or a substance use disorder (p < .001 to < .05). In logistic regression analyses, suicidal ideation was significantly predicted by comorbid major depression (p = .010) and greater lifetime impairment due to BDD (p = .003); suicide attempts were significantly predicted by PTSD (p = .011), a substance use disorder (p = .011), and greater lifetime impairment due to BDD (p = .005).

Conclusion: Individuals with BDD have high rates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Lifetime impairment due to BDD and certain comorbid disorders are associated with suicidality.

Volume: 66

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