Rumination, Brooding, and Reflection: Prospective Associations with Suicide Ideation and Suicide Attempts

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Abstract

Objective

Rumination is often cited as a risk factor for suicide, yet few studies of rumination have utilized clinical samples, and no studies have examined its prospective association with suicide attempts. The purpose of this study was to examine concurrent and prospective associations of brooding and reflection (the two components of rumination) with suicide ideation and suicide attempts among a high-risk clinical sample.

Method

Participants were 286 adolescents and young adults (77% Caucasian, 59% female) aged 13–25 seeking psychiatric emergency services. A majority (71%) were presenting with a primary complaint of suicide ideation or recent suicide attempt. Participants completed a baseline assessment at the index visit; 226 participants (79%) completed a 4-month follow-up assessment of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Results

Brooding was associated with lifetime history of one or more suicide attempts, but not concurrent suicide ideation. Reflection was not associated with lifetime suicide attempts or concurrent suicide ideation. Furthermore, prospective associations of brooding and reflection with suicide ideation and suicide attempts were weak-to-small in magnitude and statistically nonsignificant.

Conclusions

Rumination appears to have a limited association with suicide-related outcomes within a high-risk clinical sample. Additional longitudinal studies utilizing clinical samples are critically needed to better understand these associations.

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