Medically serious versus non-serious suicide attempts: Relationships of lethality and intent to clinical and interpersonal characteristics

Netta Horesh, Yossi Levi, Alan Apter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Background: The study of near-fatal suicide attempts may provide insight into the minds of suicidal subjects. The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship of intent and lethality in medically serious and medically non-serious suicide attempts and to examine relationship of specific psychological and clinical variables with the subjective and objective components of suicide intent. Methods: The study group included 102 participants, 35 consecutive subjects hospitalized for a medically serious suicide attempt and 67 subjects who presented to the same tertiary medical center after a medically non-serious suicide attempt. All were interviewed with the SCID-I and completed the Suicide Intent Scale (SIS), the Lethality Rating Scale, and instruments measuring mental pain and communication difficulties. Results: Patients who made medically serious suicide attempts had higher total SIS score and higher objective and subjective subscale scores. The objective component of the SIS was highly correlated with the lethality of the suicide attempt and communication difficulties; the subjective component was associated with mental pain variables. The interaction of mental pain and communication difficulties was predictive of the severity of the objective suicide intent. Limitations: Relatively small number of patients with medically serious suicide attempt and the relatively large number of questionnaires which may to some extent have diminished informant reliability. Conclusions: Suicidal individuals with depression and hopelessness who cannot signal their pain to others are at high risk of committing a medically serious suicide attempts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-293
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The project was supported by a grant from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). The AFSP had no further role in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.


  • Communication difficulties
  • Interpersonal
  • Lethality
  • Mental pain
  • Self disclosure
  • Suicide intent


Dive into the research topics of 'Medically serious versus non-serious suicide attempts: Relationships of lethality and intent to clinical and interpersonal characteristics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this