Suicide reattempters: a systematic review

Harv Rev Psychiatry. Nov-Dec 2013;21(6):281-95. doi: 10.1097/HRP.0000000000000001.


The aim of this study is to identify the characteristic features of suicide reattempters. The recognition of the suicide reattempters population as a distinct clinical population may encourage future preventive and clinical work with this high-risk subgroup and thus reduce deaths. A systematic literature review was carried out in order to identify the key demographic, psychological, and clinical variables associated with the repetition of suicide attempts. In addition, we wished to analyze the operational definitions of the repetition of suicide attempts proposed in the scientific literature. Studies published from 2000 to 2012 were identified in PubMed, PsycINFO, and Web of Science databases and were selected according to predetermined criteria. We examined a total of 1480 articles and selected 86 that matched our search criteria. The literature is heterogeneous, with no consensus regarding the operational definitions of suicide reattempters. Comparison groups in the literature have also been inconsistent and include subjects making a single lifetime attempt and subjects who did not reattempt during a defined study period. Suicide reattempters were associated with higher rates of the following characteristics: unemployment, unmarried status, diagnosis of mental disorders, suicidal ideation, stressful life events, and family history of suicidal behavior. Additional research is needed to establish adequate differentiation and effective treatment plans for this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*