Characteristics of individuals who make impulsive suicide attempts.
Previous research has identified only a few variables that have been associated with making an impulsive suicide attempt. The aim of the current study was to compare individuals who made an impulsive suicide attempt with those who made a premeditated attempt on both previously examined and novel characteristics. Participants were classified as making an impulsive or premeditated attempt based on the Suicide Intent Scale (Beck et al., 1974a) and were compared on a number of characteristics relevant to suicidality, psychiatric history, and demographics. Individuals who made an impulsive attempt expected that their attempts would be less lethal; yet the actual lethality of both groups' attempts was similar. Those who made an impulsive attempt were less depressed and hopeless than those who made a premeditated attempt. Participants who made an impulsive attempt were less likely to report a history of childhood sexual abuse and more likely to be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder than those who made a premeditated attempt. Although the sample size was adequate for bivariate statistics, future studies using larger sample sizes will allow for multivariate analyses of characteristics that differentiate individuals who make impulsive and premeditated attempts. Clinicians should not minimize the significance of impulsive attempts, as they are associated with a similar level of lethality as premeditated attempts. Focusing mainly on depression and hopelessness as indicators of suicide risk has the potential to under-identify those who are at risk for making impulsive attempts. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.