Patient-Identified Priorities Leading to Attempted Suicide: Life Is Lived in Interpersonal Relationships

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Background: Attempted suicide is a major public health problem. Aim: The aim of this study was to identify patient-identified problems and triggers typically leading to attempted suicide. Method: A representative sample of 66 adult patients was recruited from all clinical sites and psychiatrists who treat patients after attempted suicide in the Canton of Basel-City (Switzerland). Patients were diagnosed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID) and interviewed with a local adaptation of the Explanatory Model Interview Catalogue (EMIC) to study underlying problems and triggers of attempted suicide. Results: Of the patients, 92.4% had at least one DSM-IV disorder, with depressive disorders being the most prevalent disorder. Although half (50.0%) of the patients identified a health problem, 71.2% identified an interpersonal conflict as underlying problem leading to the suicide attempt. Furthermore, an interpersonal conflict was identified as the trigger of the suicide attempt by more than half of the patients (54.5%). Limitations: The study included German-speaking patients only. Conclusion: According to patients, interpersonal problems often amplify underlying psychiatric problems, leading to suicide attempts. Social and interpersonal stressors should be acknowledged with integrated clinical and social interventions to prevent suicidal behavior in patients and populations.

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