Associations between personality traits and suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in patients with personality disorders

Katja Boot, Jasper X.M. Wiebenga*, Merijn Eikelenboom, Patricia van Oppen, Kathleen Thomaes, Hein J.F. van Marle, Henriette D. Heering

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: People with personality disorders (PDs) have an elevated suicide risk. However, correlates of suicidal ideation (SI) and suicide attempts (SA) remain largely unknown in this population. A growing body of literature highlights the contribution of the Big Five personality traits in suicide-outcomes. Therefore, the present study investigates the association between the Big Five personality traits and SI and SA in people with PDs while applying the ideation-to-action framework. Method: Data were obtained from 105 treatment-seeking individuals diagnosed with PDs participating in the Trauma tO Personality Spectrum Study (TOPSS). Multinomial logistic regression analyses were used to analyze the association between the NEO Five-Factor Inventory and the three category suicide-outcome: non-suicidal, SI, and SA. Results: After controlling for age, gender, a comorbid depressive disorder, the severity of borderline manifestations, and other personality traits from the Big Five taxonomy, significantly lower levels of extraversion were observed in participants with SI compared to non-suicidal participants (OR = 0.27, 95% CI 0.10–0.72) but not in SA participants. In contrast, higher levels of extraversion were associated with SA when compared to SI (OR = 3.52, 95% CI 1.33–9.32). Other Big Five traits were not independently associated with suicide-outcomes. Conclusions: Of the Big Five traits, the introversion-extraversion dimension most clearly distinguishes individuals with SI from non-suicidal individuals, as well as those with a SA in the past from those with SI only. Prospective studies are required to investigate if this personality trait can predict the progression from being non-suicidal to having SI and from having SI to performing an attempt.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152284
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Early online date26 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

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