Risk factors for suicide attempt in an Arab kindred

Sami Hamdan*, Nadine Melhem, Israel Orbach, Ilana Farbstein, Mohammad El-Haib, Alan Apter, David Brent

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This explorative study examines correlates of suicidal behavior in an extended Arab kindred selected because of a high rate of suicidal behavior. Methods: Family members (n = 468) aged 15 through 55 were assessed using a comprehensive structured psychiatric interview, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI), which covers a wide range of psychopathology, including a spectrum of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. In addition, self-reported depression, anxiety, hopelessness, impulsivity and hostility, early childhood adversity, and suicidal behavior in first- and second-degree relatives were assessed. Results: Significant associations were found between suicidal thoughts and behavior, and the presence of family history of suicide, all forms of psychopathology and suicidal behaviors. In addition, impulsivity and hostility were also significantly associated with suicidality. Limitation: The absence of similar assessments in comparison families, makes it difficult to assess why this family appears to be at higher risk for suicidal behavior. Conclusion: Risk correlates of suicidal behavior in the Arab kindred are similar to those reported from other parts of the world. These findings suggest that effective means of suicide prevention used in European populations may be successfully adapted to prevent suicide in this ethnic group as well. Since all forms of suicidal behavior in this population as well as in other Arab populations are increasing rapidly (Karam et al.; 2008), these results have important implications for suicide prevention as well as for the understanding of the genetics of suicide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-253
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
ACISR1 P30 MH090431-01A1
Melhem NM
US–Israel Binational fundMH077930
National Institute of Mental HealthK01MH077930
Pittsburgh Foundation
Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation
National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression


    • Affective disorders
    • Arab
    • Family history of suicide
    • Impulsive-aggression


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