Population-attributable fractions of Axis I and Axis II mental disorders for suicide attempts: findings from a representative sample of the adult, noninstitutionalized US population

Am J Public Health. 2010 Dec;100(12):2473-80. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2010.192252.


Objectives: We aimed to determine the percentage of suicide attempts attributable to individual Axis I and Axis II mental disorders by studying population-attributable fractions (PAFs) in a nationally representative sample.

Methods: Data were from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions Wave 2 (NESARC; 2004-2005), a large (N = 34 653) survey of mental illness in the United States. We used multivariate logistic regression to compare individuals with and without a history of suicide attempt across Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Axis I disorders (anxiety, mood, psychotic, alcohol, and drug disorders) and all 10 Axis II personality disorders. PAFs were calculated for each disorder.

Results: Of the 25 disorders we examined in the model, 4 disorders had notably high PAF values: major depressive disorder (PAF = 26.6%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 20.1, 33.2), borderline personality disorder (PAF = 18.1%; 95% CI = 13.4, 23.5), nicotine dependence (PAF = 8.4%; 95% CI = 3.4, 13.7), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PAF = 6.3%; 95% CI = 3.2, 10.0).

Conclusions: Our results provide new insight into the relationships between mental disorders and suicide attempts in the general population. Although many mental illnesses were associated with an increased likelihood of suicide attempt, elevated rates of suicide attempts were mostly attributed to the presence of 4 disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Epilepsy, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult