Profiles of Behavioral Warning Signs for Suicide Attempts in the Prediction of Future Suicidality
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University of Mississippi Medical Center

Recent research Dr. Courtney Bagge and colleagues conducted with veterans and civilians has shown evidence that certain observable behaviors increase in the hours before a suicide attempt. Identifying those observable behaviors, which Bagge calls behavioral warning signs (BWS), can help in determining which individuals are at imminent risk for suicide. Individuals who were discharged from a psychiatric hospital 12 months ago have especially high risk for engaging in suicidal behaviors. Therefore, understanding the relation between BWS and suicide in these individuals could help in predicting and preventing suicidal behaviors.

Bagge and colleagues have identified 5 patterns of BWS that may help predict suicidal thoughts and behaviors 12 months after discharge from a psychiatric hospital. Now, Bagge proposes to investigate whether these BWS patterns can predict serious suicidal thoughts and behaviors following psychiatric hospital discharge. No published study has yet examined whether BWS patterns can predict future suicidal behaviors. As we learn more about the connections between BWS and future suicidal behaviors, we can more easily select individualized treatments during hospitalization, discharge patients at appropriate times, help direct individuals to the best resources for them, and optimize our efforts to prevent suicide.

Bagge will follow up with 181 veteran and civilian participants from her previous research and examine the participants’ suicidal behaviors 12 months after their BWS were first assessed. In doing so, Bagge will be able to determine whether the BWS patterns were able to predict future suicidal behavior. The study’s findings can illuminate whether individuals with certain BWS are likely to engage in suicidal behaviors earlier than individuals with other BWS, as well as illuminating whether individuals with certain BWS are more likely to engage in specific suicidal behaviors. The study’s findings can also enhance treatment planning for veterans and civilians alike and can help optimize assessments of suicide risk and prevention of future suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

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