Year: 2021 Source: Journal of Affective Disorders. (2021). 281, 605-608. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.11.108. SIEC No: 20210114

Background: Suicide has been associated with dysfunctional strategies for emotion regulation but, so far, research findings have been inconclusive.

Methods: To investigate how difficulties in emotion regulation impact suicidal ideation (SI) and behavior, 111 psychiatric inpatients were enrolled. Affective instability (AI), emotional impulsivity (EI), and negative and positive emotionality (NE and PE) were measured by the RIPoSt-40 questionnaire; the first three subscales have been summed to form a total negative emotion dysregulation (NED) score.

Results: In the sample, 55 subjects reported at least one-lifetime suicide attempt; 50 patients were diagnosed with mood-disorder (MD), 30 with the schizophrenia-spectrum disorder (SSD), and 15 with personality-disorder (PD). Diagnostic groups differed for NED scores (p=.008) but not for PE (p>0.05), with patients suffering from PD having higher scores (p=0.03). Compared to non-attempters, lifetime-suicide attempters were 6.5 times more likely to have a personality disorder (95% CI=1.34/31.83). Partial correlation analyses, controlling for the presence of suicide attempts, showed that lifetime SI-intensity score was significantly and positively associated with NED (r=.39, p<.001), AI (r=.40, p<.001), and NE (r=.42, p<.001). NED scores (p=.001) and the presence of lifetime suicide attempts (p<.001) were independently associated with lifetime SI-intensity scores.

Limitations: The lack of a non-clinical control group and the cross sectional nature of the study limits the generalizability of the results.

Conclusion: Our findings support the hypothesis that negative emotion dysregulation is independently associated with SI and behavior. Negative emotion dysregulation should be targeted in suicide prevention.