Good Relationships may Decrease Suicide Risk

Borderline personality disorder patients may benefit from help with relationships

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Suicide attempts are common for people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). New research looks into the predictors of suicide in patients with BPD with aims at designing treatments to offset the risk.

A recent study looked at all the risk factors for suicidal behavior in people with BPD over a six year period.  Poor relationships with others, a common problem for people with BPD, was the most stable predictor of suicide attempt for people in the study.

Treatments can target this aspect of the disorder to help offset the risk of suicide.

"Talk to your psychologist if you have any thoughts of self-harm"

A study, led by Paul Soloff, MD, of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, followed 90 people with BPD over six years to assess the factors that might predict suicide attempt. In this study, 27.8 percent of the participants attempted suicide.

Overall, the risk factors for suicide included being economically poor, family history of suicide, poor psychosocial function, and lack of treatment.

The predictors of suicide for people with BPD changed over time. They found that depression was a big risk factor for suicide attempts in the short-term. People with BPD who were depressed were more likely to attempt suicide within one year of their depression diagnosis.

The factor that showed consistent influence on suicidal behavior over the long-term was poor psychosocial function. Psychosocial function is the ability to connect with others in relationships and to have meaningful connections with daily life events. 

Poor psychosocial function often manifests in troubled relationships with family, friends, and work colleagues.

Many of the people in this study showed improvement in their BPD symptoms over time, but continued to have trouble with psychosocial functioning. The authors conclude that treatments for BPD should target social and work-related functioning to decrease risk of suicidal behavior. 

The study was published in the May issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. No conflicts of interest were reported.

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Review Date: 
May 4, 2012
Last Updated:
May 5, 2012