• suicide;
  • suicide attempt;
  • severity;
  • family history;
  • first-degree relatives

Objective:  Only a few studies have examined whether a family history of suicide influences the severity of suicidal acts and the results have been inconsistent. The current study aimed to examine whether a family history of suicidal acts predicts severity of suicide attempts.

Method:  190 suicide attempters aged 18–75 years with a lifetime history of major depression were assessed for first-degree family history of suicidality and severity of suicide attempts (number and lethality of prior suicide attempts and age at first attempt).

Results:  Regression analyses indicate that a positive family history of suicidal behaviors predicts a greater number of suicide attempts. Reasons for living predict number and lethality of prior attempts.

Conclusion:  It is critical to assess for family history of suicidal behavior when treating depressed suicide attempters as it may serve as an indicator of the risk of repeat suicide attempt and as a guide for treatment.