Psychological vulnerability to completed suicide: a review of empirical studies

Suicide Life Threat Behav. Winter 2001;31(4):367-85. doi: 10.1521/suli.31.4.367.22048.


Retrospective research shows that close to 90 percent of suicides have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder; however, only a small proportion of individuals with psychopathology take their own lives. This article reviews the empirical literature on psychological vulnerability to completed suicide. A search of the MEDLINE and PsycINFO databases yielded 46 cohort or case-control studies that used standardized or structured assessments of psychological dimensions. Five constructs have been consistently associated with completed suicide: impulsivity/aggression, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and self-consciousness/social disengagement. Current knowledge of psychological vulnerability to completed suicide could inform social and neurobiological research, and thereby deepen understanding of suicide while potentially bridging these areas of study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Europe
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • United States