Comparison of the suicidal behavior of adolescent inpatients with borderline personality disorder and major depression

Netta Horesh*, Israel Orbach, Doron Gothelf, Meir Efrati, Alan Apter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of the study was to examine the hypothesis that some forms of suicidal behavior among adolescents are related to helplessness and depression, whereas others are related to anger and impulsivity. Sixty-five adolescents were studied. Thirty-three had borderline personality disorder (BPD), of whom 17 had made a recent suicide attempt. Thirty-two had major depressive disorder (MDD), of whom 16 had made a recent suicide attempt. Assessments were made with the Child Suicide Potential Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, the Beck Hopelessness Scale, the Multidimensional Anger Inventory, the Overt Aggression Scale, the Impulsiveness-Control Scale, and the Suicide Intent Scale. Adolescents with BPD had more anger, aggression, and impulsiveness than those with MDD, but similar levels of depression and hopelessness. Suicidal versus nonsuicidal adolescents were more depressed, hopeless, and aggressive, but not more angry or impulsive. There were no significant differences in impulsiveness for the MDD suicidal group versus the MDD nonsuicidal group, but the suicidal BPD adolescents were significantly more impulsive than the nonsuicidal BPD adolescents. In the subjects with BPD, impulsiveness and aggression correlated significantly and positively with suicidal behavior. In the subjects with MDD, no such correlations were seen. In both diagnostic groups, depression and hopelessness correlated positively and significantly with suicidal behavior. Anger did not correlate with suicidal behavior in either of the groups. The suicidal subjects with MDD had significantly higher suicidal intent scores than the suicidal adolescents with BPD. We conclude that the nature of suicidal behavior in adolescents with BPD differs from that seen in MDD with respect to the role of anger and aggression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-588
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2003


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