Dependency and self-criticism as predictors of suicidal behavior

Suicide Life Threat Behav. Summer 2003;33(2):172-85. doi: 10.1521/suli.


Individuals have been theorized to develop anaclitic and introjective depression to the extent that they may be characterized as dependent and self-critical, respectively (e.g., Blatt, 1990). Blatt's theory was applied to suicidal behavior to determine if suicidal behavior could also be reliably broken down into two distinctive types, with respect to a number of parameters. Sixty-four undergraduate students who had attempted suicide were interviewed, and the lethality of their attempts was assessed with the Risk-Rescue Rating scale (Weisman & Worden, 1972). Participants were also administered an Intent and Precipitating Events scale, a modified version of the BDI-II, and the Depressive Experiences Questionnaire (DEQ). Self-critical individuals showed greater intent to die and greater lethality in their suicide attempts than did dependents. Self-critics were also more likely to attempt in response to an intrapsychic stressor, with the explicit motivation to escape. In contrast, dependents were more likely to attempt in response to an interpersonal stressor, with the motivation to communicate some form of unhappiness. Implications for suicide prediction and treatment are discussed, with special reference to the importance of identifying different suicidal subtypes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Death
  • Dependency, Psychological*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Personality Inventory
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Students / psychology
  • Suicide, Attempted / prevention & control
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*