Dimensions of Impulsivity and Aggression Associated with Suicide Attempts Among Bipolar Patients: A Preliminary Study


  • Presented in part at the 155th Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, Philadelphia, PA, May 18–23, 2002.

    Supported by NIMH Career Development Award MH 01936 (JFG), by research grants from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (JFG), the Theodore and Vada Stanley Foundation (JFG), a NARSAD Young Investigator Award (JFG), the Nancy Pritzker Foundation (JFG), and by funds established in the New York Community Trust by DeWitt Wallace.

Address correspondence to Joseph F. Goldberg, MD, The Zucker Hillside Hospital, 75–59 263rd Street, Glen Oaks, NY 11004; E-mail: Jgoldber1@lij.edu.


Impulsivity and hostility are often thought to be interrelated among depressed patients with suicidal behavior, but few studies have examined this relationship empirically. In this study, we assessed trait impulsivity and hostility among 52 DSM-IV bipolar subjects with and without histories of suicide attempts. Impulsivity and hostility were correlated among attempters (r = .41, p = .03) but not non-attempters (r = .22, p = .28). As compared to non-attempters, attempters had significantly higher levels of overall hostility, more extensive subcomponents of hostility, and a trend toward higher overall impulsivity. Associations between lifetime suicide attempts and overall hostility were significant while controlling for current depression severity and lifetime illness duration. Aggression and impulsivity appear linked among bipolar patients with lifetime suicide attempts but may be independent constructs among non-attempters. The presence of both factors may elevate risk for suicidal behavior.