Suicide attempts often are impulsive, yet little is known about the characteristics of impulsive suicide. We examined impulsive suicide attempts within a population-based, case-control study of nearly lethal suicide attempts among people 13-34 years of age. Attempts were considered impulsive if the respondent reported spending less than 5 minutes between the decision to attempt suicide and the actual attempt. Among the 153 case-subjects, 24% attempted impulsively. Impulsive attempts were more likely among those who had been in a physical fight and less likely among those who were depressed. Relative to control subjects, male sex, fighting, and hopelessness distinguished impulsive cases but depression did not. Our findings suggest that inadequate control of aggressive impulses might be a greater indicator of risk for impulsive suicide attempts than depression.