The Relations between Perfectionism and Suicidality: A Systematic Review


  • Rory C. O'Connor PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Suicidal Behavior Research Group at the University of Stirling, Scotland. Many thanks to Louisa Fraser for collating the studies while being supported by an Economic and Social Research Council grant (RES-000–22–1134) awarded to the author.
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Suicidal Behavior Research Group, Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, FK9 4LA; E-mail:


Since the 1980s, there has been a 300 percent increase in the number of published papers on perfectionism. Given the inconsistent findings in the literature, this systematic review examines, for the first time, the nature of the relationship between perfectionism and suicidality. To this end, the three main psychological and medical databases (PsychInfo 1887–May 2006, Medline 1966–May 2006 and Web of Knowledge 1981–May 2006) were searched. Twenty nine papers of perfectionism and suicidality were found. There is considerable evidence that self-critical evaluative concerns perfectionism (i.e., socially prescribed perfectionism, self-criticism, concern about mistakes, and doubts about action) is correlated with suicidality. The methodological implications for future research are examined. In addition, the clinical implications for treatment and how these findings relate to the current conceptual debate on the nature of perfectionism are discussed.