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Recent Life Events, Social Adjustment, and Suicide Attempts in Patients with Major Depression and Borderline Personality Disorder

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1521/pedi.2000.14.4.316

This study investigated the impact of recent life events and social adjustment on suicide attempter status in 34 patients with major depression, 24 patients with borderline personality disorder, and 22 patients with co-morbid major depression and borderline personality disorder. Suicide attempters reported more recent life events and scored lower on a measure of social adjustment in their families and overall social adjustment, compared with non-attempters. Borderline disordered and borderline or depressed patients were more likely to have attempted suicide than patients with major depression only. Recent life events did not predict attempter status. Lower social adjustment in the immediate family and lower overall social adjustment were predictive of suicide attempter classification, regardless of diagnosis. Borderline disordered patients low on overall social adjustment were over 16 times more likely to have attempted suicide than patients diagnosed with major depression only. Recent life events may elevate suicide risk in groups already at high risk for suicide completion, whereas high levels of social adjustment may be protective against stress-related suicidal behavior.