Clinical predictors of eventual suicide: a 5- to 10-year prospective study of suicide attempters

J Affect Disord. 1989 Nov-Dec;17(3):203-9. doi: 10.1016/0165-0327(89)90001-3.


The Beck Depression Inventory, Hopelessness scale, and Suicidal Intent scale (SIS) scores of 413 patients, who were hospitalized for suicide attempts (attempters) between 1970 and 1975 and followed until 1982, were used in multiple logistic regression analyses to predict the risk of eventually committing suicide. Out of 10 clinical and demographic characteristics chosen to control for possible confounding with the scales, only a diagnosis of alcoholism predicted eventual suicide. The risk of the alcoholics eventually committing suicide was over five times greater than that of the non-alcoholics. Controlling for confounding with unemployment and a diagnosis of alcoholism, the SIS Precautions subscale was also found to predict eventual suicide. The risk of committing suicide rose 67% with each point that the Precautions scale increased. The 20 (4.8%) attempters who eventually killed themselves had described taking more precautions against discovery at the time of their index attempt than the 393 (95.2%) who did not commit suicide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Philadelphia
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*