Positive and negative life events and reasons for living modulate suicidal ideation in a sample of patients with history of suicide attempts

J Psychiatr Res. 2017 May;88:64-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2016.12.022. Epub 2017 Jan 1.


Background: The influence of life events on suicidal behavior remains inconclusive, while reasons for living (RFL) may be protective.

Objectives: To analyze the association between positive and negative life events and suicidal ideation (SI) and the interaction between life events and RFL on SI.

Method: Patients with history of suicide attempts (n = 338) underwent a comprehensive clinical evaluation, including SI (Beck's Suicidal Ideation scale), RFL (Reasons for Living Inventory, RFLI) and life events (family, school, student or professional, social, health and religion-related and other life events) during the last twelve months.

Results: The only negative life events associated with SI were health-related events (OR = 2.01 95%CI[1.04;3.92]). Family-related positive life events and RFL were negatively associated with SI (OR = 0.73 95%CI[0.58;0.91] and OR = 0.98 95%CI[0.97;0.98], respectively). No significant interaction between the number of positive life events and RFLI total score with current SI (p = 0.57) was detected. Family-related positive life events and RFL did not have any additive effect on SI. Positive life events did not moderate the association between health-related negative life events and SI.

Limitations: This was a retrospective study, the presence of axis II disorders was not investigated and results cannot be generalized due to the sample choice (only suicide attempters).

Conclusions: Patients with history of suicide attempts could be less sensitive to negative life events, except for those related to health. Clinicians should pay more attention to somatic problems in patients at risk of suicide. Family support, positive psychology and therapies that strengthen RFL should be developed to prevent suicide.

Keywords: Life events; Reasons for living; Suicide.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychometrics
  • Resilience, Psychological*
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinking*
  • Young Adult