Year: 2018 Source: Review of General Psychology. (2014). 18(3), 156-172. SIEC No: 20180445

Although perfectionism is recognized as a factor that is linked with suicide, we maintain that the role of perfectionism as an amplifier of the risk of suicide has been underestimated due to several factors. In the current article, contemporary research on the role of perfectionism in suicide is reviewed and summarized. Several themes are addressed, including: (a) consistent evidence linking suicide ideation with chronic exposure to external pressures to be perfect (i.e., socially prescribed perfectionism); (b) the roles of perfectionistic self-presentation and self-concealment in suicides that occur without warning; and (c) how perfectionism contributes to lethal suicide behaviors. We also summarize data showing consistent links between perfectionism and hopelessness and discuss the need for a person-centered approach that recognizes the heightened risk for perfectionists who also tend to experience hopelessness, psychache, life stress, overgeneralization, and a form of emotional perfectionism that restricts the willingness to disclose suicidal urges and intentions. It is concluded that when formulating clinical guidelines for suicide risk assessment and intervention and public health approaches to suicide prevention, there is an urgent need for an expanded conceptualization of perfectionism as an individual and societal risk factor. We also discuss why it is essential to design preventive programs tailored to key personality features with specific components that should enhance resilience and reduce levels of risk among perfectionists who hide behind a mask of apparent invulnerability.