The relationship of suicide attempts, borderline personality traits, and major depressive disorder in a veteran outpatient population

J Affect Disord. 1998 May;49(2):151-6. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(98)00009-3.


Background: Suicide attempts have been associated to both Major Depression and Borderline Personality Disorder. This report hypothesized that there would be significant clinical differences between psychiatric outpatients with Major Depression, Major Depression with a history of a suicide attempt (but low Borderline traits) and Major Depression high levels of Borderline personality traits.

Methods: Male psychiatric outpatients who had Major Depression were divided into three groups: No suicide attempts and low Borderline traits (Depression), suicide and low Borderline traits (Suicide) and high Borderline traits (Borderline traits.) A screened control group was also used (Controls). Standardized measures of Axis I and Axis II variables were gathered by trained interviewers.

Results: "Suicide" had significantly higher levels of anxiety and depression than all other groups. "Borderline traits" had higher levels of pathological personality traits and familial Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) than all other groups.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: The Suicide group appears to identify a group that is more symptomatically severe in Axis I symptoms than other Major Depression groups. Different Major Depression groups may require different treatments. The association between Borderline and GAD warrants further research.

Limitations: This study used male veterans in middle age. The usual cautions about generalizing findings to other demographic groups apply.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / complications
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / complications
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*
  • United States
  • Veterans / psychology*