Nonlinear Change Processes During Psychotherapy Characterize Patients Who Have Made Multiple Suicide Attempts

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Abstract

Research suggests that multiple suicide attempters experience considerable variability in suicide ideation and longer-duration suicidal crises, which suggests the possibility of two states of stability (one low risk and one high risk). To date, however, few studies have examined nonlinear change processes in suicide ideation among patients. In a sample of 76 active duty U.S. Army soldiers receiving brief cognitive behavioral therapy for acute suicide risk, we examined differences in the ebb and flow of suicide ideation among multiple attempters, first-time attempters, and ideators. Results indicated that multiple attempters were characterized by two states of stability corresponding to low and high intensity suicide ideation; these states were separated by a region of instability corresponding to moderate intensity suicide ideation. In contrast, ideators and first-time attempters were characterized by only a single state of stability corresponding to low intensity suicide ideation. Among patients who have made multiple suicide attempts, suicide ideation may function as a bimodal rather than a continuous construct.

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