The Relationship between Body Dysmorphic Disorder Behaviors and the Acquired Capability for Suicide

Authors

  • Tracy K. Witte PhD,

    1. Tracy K. Witte, Department of Psychology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA; Elizabeth R. Didie, WilliamMenard, and Katharine A. Phillips, Rhode Island Hospital and the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
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  • Elizabeth R. Didie PhD,

    1. Tracy K. Witte, Department of Psychology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA; Elizabeth R. Didie, WilliamMenard, and Katharine A. Phillips, Rhode Island Hospital and the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
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  • William Menard BA,

    1. Tracy K. Witte, Department of Psychology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA; Elizabeth R. Didie, WilliamMenard, and Katharine A. Phillips, Rhode Island Hospital and the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
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  • Katharine A. Phillips MD

    1. Tracy K. Witte, Department of Psychology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA; Elizabeth R. Didie, WilliamMenard, and Katharine A. Phillips, Rhode Island Hospital and the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.
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  • This research was supported, in part, by grants R01 MH60241 and 5 K24 MH063975 from the National Institute of Mental Health to Dr. Phillips.

Address correspondence to Tracy K. Witte, Department of Psychology, 226 Thach Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849-5214; E-mail: tracy.witte@auburn.edu

Abstract

In a sample of 200 individuals diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), we utilized the interpersonal–psychological theory for suicide as a framework to examine BDD behaviors that might be associated with suicide risk, insofar as they might increase the acquired capability for suicide. We predicted that physically painful BDD behaviors (e.g., cosmetic surgery, restrictive eating) would be associated with suicide attempts but not suicide-related ideation because these behaviors increase capability for, but not thoughts about, suicide. Our hypothesis was partially confirmed, as BDD-related restrictive food intake was associated with suicide attempts (but not suicide-related ideation) even after controlling for numerous covariates.

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