Patterns of stressful life events: Distinguishing suicide ideators from suicide attempters.
McFeeters, D., Boyda, D., & O'Neill, S.
Suicidal ideation is an important indicator for subsequent suicidal behaviour, yet only a proportion of ideators transit from thought to action. This has led to interest surrounding the factors that distinguish ideators who attempt from non-attempters. The study aimed to identify distinct classes of life event categories amongst a sample of ideators and assess the ability of the classes to predict the risk of a suicide attempt.
A subsample of ideators was extracted based on responses to the suicidality section of the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (N=7403). Fifteen stressful life events (SLEs) were grouped into six broad categories.
Using Latent Class Analysis (LCA), three distinct classes emerged; class 1 had a high probability of encountering interpersonal conflict, class 2 reported a low probability of experiencing any of the SLE categories with the exception of minor life stressors, whereas class 3 had a high probability of endorsing multiple SLE categories. The Odds Ratio for attempted suicide were highest among members of Class 3.
The use of broad event categories as opposed to discrete life events may have led to an underestimation of the true exposure to SLEs.
The findings suggest the experience of multiple types of SLEs may predict the risk of transitioning towards suicidal behaviour for those individuals who have contemplated suicide. In application, this re-emphasises the need for a routine appraisal of risk amongst this vulnerable group and an assessment of the variety of events which may signal the individuals who may be at immediate risk.