Suicide and self-injury (SSI) are pervasive among individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD), yet little research has examined factors that increase SSI urges among those with BPD. Emptiness is a diagnostic criterion of BPD that is associated with SSI behaviors, but its impact on SSI urges in BPD is poorly understood. This study investigates the association between emptiness and SSI urges at baseline and in response to a stressor (i.e., reactivity) among individuals with BPD.
Forty individuals with BPD participated in an experimental procedure where they rated their degree of emptiness and SSI urges at baseline and in response to an interpersonal stressor. Generalized estimating equations tested whether emptiness predicts baseline SSI urges and SSI urge reactivity.
Higher emptiness predicted higher baseline suicide urges (B = 0.006, SE = 0.002, p < 0.001), but not baseline self-injury urges (p = 0.081). Emptiness did not significantly predict suicide urge reactivity (p = 0.731) nor self-injury urge reactivity (p = 0.446).
Assessing and targeting emptiness may facilitate the reduction of suicide urges in BPD. Future research should investigate treatment strategies for reducing SSI risk among individuals with BPD via targeting emptiness.