Empirical indicators of near-term suicide risk

Crisis. 1990 May;11(1):52-9.


In practice, clinicians estimating the likelihood of suicide are most concerned with short-term risk. To address this issue, an analysis of prospective data from 3,005 psychiatric patients at risk for suicide was carried out, focusing on 38 persons who committed suicide within 60 days of evaluation. Nine high-risk variables were identified: prior psychiatric hospitalization, contemplation of hanging or jumping, presence of suicidal impulses, divorced, a threat of financial loss, feeling a burden to others, unable to cry or severe crying, severe or moderate ideas of persecution or reference, and a negative or mixed reaction to the patient by the interviewer. Four or more of these characteristics identified the suicides with a sensitivity of 79% and a specificity of 81%.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Department, Hospital
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*