Many Suicide Attempters Have No Active Suicidal Thoughts

Many Suicide Attempters Have No Lively Suicidal Ideas



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Annually, almost 800,000 folks die from suicide. Although suicide is extra prevalent in some international locations (e.g., Guyana), amongst sure teams (e.g., middle-aged Caucasian males within the U.S.), and at sure occasions—in spring and summer time, within the first week of a month, earlier within the week, and through afternoons—it may occur any time or place.

A number of threat components for suicide have been recognized. These embody male gender, Caucasian ethnicity, psychological sickness (notably melancholy), psychiatric signs (hopelessness, impulsivity), bodily or sexual abuse, loneliness, relationship battle, monetary difficulties, entry to weapons, and private historical past of suicide makes an attempt.

One other threat issue is suicidal ideation (i.e. having ideas about ending one’s life). Nonetheless, a latest examine by Wastler and colleagues means that though “some people who try suicide expertise progressively worsening suicidal ideas,” others expertise solely passive ideation and a few no suicide‐associated ideas in any respect. The paper, printed within the June problem of Journal of Scientific Psychology, is reviewed beneath. (Observe: Passive ideation refers to ideas equivalent to “I want I might disappear.” An instance of energetic ideation is “I ought to kill myself.”

Investigating the hyperlink between suicidal ideation and suicide makes an attempt

Pattern: 6,200 American adults; 51.0% females; 62% Caucasian; 41% between 25 and 44 years outdated; 45% with a school schooling.


The Self‐Injurious Ideas and Behaviors Interview‐Revised (SITBI‐R) was used to evaluate passive and energetic suicidal ideation. Particularly, contributors have been requested if they’d any of those ideas earlier than:

  1. I want I might disappear or not exist.
  2. I want I might fall asleep and by no means get up.
  3. My life shouldn’t be value dwelling.
  4. I want I used to be by no means born.
  5. I want I have been useless.
  6. Possibly I ought to kill myself.
  7. I ought to kill myself.
  8. I’m going to kill myself.

To evaluate suicidal conduct, contributors have been requested if they’d finished any of the next:

  1. Purposefully harm your self with out eager to die.
  2. Been very near killing your self, however on the final minute you determined to not do it earlier than taking any motion.
  3. Been very near killing your self however on the final minute, somebody or one thing else stopped you earlier than you took any motion.
  4. Began to kill your self and then you definitely stopped after you had already taken some motion.
  5. Began to kill your self and then you definitely determined to succeed in out for assist after you had already taken some motion.
  6. Tried to kill your self and somebody discovered you afterward.
  7. Tried to kill your self and nobody discovered you afterward.

Optimistic and Unfavourable Have an effect on Scale (PANAS). Individuals answered to what diploma they’d skilled, within the earlier week, optimistic emotions (energetic, alert, attentive, decided, impressed) and detrimental emotions (afraid, ashamed, hostile, nervous, upset).


Listed below are some key findings:

  1. “The only real presence of passive suicidal ideation was related to elevated charges of each lifetime and previous‐month suicide makes an attempt.”
  2. “One‐third of people with a lifetime suicide try denied ever experiencing energetic suicidal ideas of their lifetime and one in 10 denied ever having any suicide‐associated ideas.”
  3. “Half of the people with a latest suicide try denied experiencing energetic suicidal ideas in the course of the month they tried suicide. One in 5 denied experiencing any suicide‐associated ideas in the course of the month they tried suicide.”

What these findings point out is that the development from suicidal ideas to suicidal behaviors doesn’t all the time contain the continuum mannequin pathway of passive ideas of loss of life intensifying and leading to extra energetic ideas, planning, try, and at last, loss of life.

So, some folks seem to “skip” levels of the continuum mannequin (e.g., no passive or energetic ideation earlier than suicide try).


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It’s generally assumed that suicide threat happens on a continuum, that means ideas of loss of life regularly intensify earlier than a suicide try or loss of life by suicide happens. However is that this true for everybody? No, based on the findings of the present examine.

As an illustration, evaluation of information confirmed that one in ten lifetime suicide attempters by no means skilled suicidal ideation — and greater than a fifth of those that tried suicide within the earlier month had not skilled suicidal ideation in any respect throughout that interval.

So, it seems suicidal conduct can happen with out suicidal ideation. How?

Maybe, the authors counsel, previous suicide planning is “saved on a ‘psychological shelf,’ which will be simply accessed and acted upon with out present suicidal ideas.”

Different potentialities embody unplanned or impulsive suicidal behaviors. Or suicide makes an attempt that happen after detrimental and distressing ideas (e.g., feeling unworthy of affection, feeling unable to tolerate a scenario), versus after suicidal ideation.

An implication of the findings is that we have to ask about each passive and energetic suicidal ideation in suicide threat evaluation, but in addition to do not forget that some individuals who try suicide might have skilled neither.


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