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Keywords:

  • bipolar disorder;
  • cognition;
  • frontolimbic network;
  • neuroimaging;
  • suicidality;
  • suicide model

Objectives

To review the psychosocial, neuropsychological, and neurobiological evidence regarding suicide and bipolar disorder (BD), to enable the development of an integrated model that facilitates understanding, and to provide a useful framework for future research.

Methods

A two-stage literature review was conducted. First, an electronic literature search was performed using key words (e.g., bipolar disorder, suicide risk, and neuroimaging) and standard databases (e.g., MEDLINE). Second, theoretical suicide models were reviewed, and their evidence base and relevance to BD were evaluated in order to determine a guiding theoretical framework for contextualizing suicide in BD.

Results

Although accumulating clinical, cognitive, and neurobiological correlates of suicide have been identified in BD, extant research has been largely atheoretical. The Cry of Pain (CoP) and an adapted version of the model, the Schematic Appraisals Model of Suicide (SAMS), provide a useful schema for examining vulnerability to suicide in BD, by taking into account biopsychosocial determinants of suicidality. In combination, these also provide a model within which the neural correlates of suicide can be integrated.

Conclusions

The proposed Bipolar Suicidality Model (BSM) highlights the psychosocial precursors to suicidality in BD, while recognizing the key role of cognitive deficits and underlying functional neurobiological abnormalities. It usefully integrates our knowledge, and provides a novel perspective that is intended to meaningfully inform future research initiatives, and can lead to a better understanding of suicidality in bipolar disorder. Ultimately, it is hoped that it will facilitate the development of targeted interventions that diminish the risk of suicide in bipolar disorder.