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Attempted Suicide and Risk of Further Attempts

Abstract: My boyfriend attempted suicide two months ago. What is the risk for further attempts?

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Attempted Suicide and Risk of Further Attempts

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Written by: Fabio Piccini, doctor and Jungian psychotherapist, in charge of the "Centre for Eating Disorders Therapy" at "Malatesta Novello" nursing home in Cesena. Works privately in Rimini and Chiavari. E-mail:

First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 31 Jul 2008.

My boyfriend attempted suicide two months ago. What is the risk for further attempts?

Answer:

It's a hard thing to accept, but repetition of suicidal attempts is fairly common, occurring in approximately 15% of individuals during the first year following an attempt (the risk being higher during the first three months). Approximately 1% will kill themselves during the first year and about 3% during the 5 years following an attempt.

There are certain characteristics that have been found in those who are more likely to repeat an attempted suicide.

These characteristics include: age of 45 or more; the fact of being male; a previous attempt which resulted in hospital admission; problems with drugs or alcohol; suffering from a personality disorder; living alone (especially if separated, divorced, or widowed); previous history of psychiatric treatment, criminal record, unemployment and lower social class.

In spite of this relatively high repetition rate risk, many patients experience considerable improvement in their social and psychological difficulties soon after their attempts, although it is often unclear whether this is the result of treatment, natural resolution of the crisis or the effect of the attempt itself (in terms of getting the attention needed from other people).

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