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, 45 (5), 340-5

Alexithymia and Suicidal Ideation: A 12-month Follow-Up Study in a General Population


Alexithymia and Suicidal Ideation: A 12-month Follow-Up Study in a General Population

Jukka Hintikka et al. Compr Psychiatry.


Alexithymic features are often associated with depression, which is the most important risk factor for suicidal behaviors. Nevertheless, little is known about the associations between alexithymia and suicidality. In this 12-month follow-up study we investigated the relationship between alexithymia and suicidal ideation in a sample of the general population (N = 1,563) using the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and the 21-item Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Suicidal ideation was more common among subjects with alexithymia than among nonalexithymic subjects (32% v 9% at baseline and 36% v 9% after 12 months). In cross-sectional analyses, alexithymia associated with the presence of suicidal ideation even after adjustment for sex, age, and several psychosocial and socioeconomic factors and the presence of depression. Moreover, after adjustment for depression at baseline, the decrease and increase in alexithymic features during the study period associated independently with recovery from and the occurrence of suicidal ideation, respectively. Nevertheless, these associations were no longer independent when adjusted for concomitant changes in the level of depressive symptoms. In conclusion, if depression presents alexithymic features the subject has an additive impact on the risk of suicidal ideation.

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