The course of post-crisis suicidal symptoms: How and for whom is suicide "cathartic"?


We investigated suicide "catharsis" as evidenced by decreased suicidality following a suicide attempt. Past research has examined this issue with mixed results (Bronisch, 1992; Davis, 1990; van Praag & Plutchik, 1985). In the present study, we examined Modified Scale for Suicide Ideation (MSSI) scores for 198 suicidal men during suicidal crisis, prior to entry into a treatment study, and again at 1-month and 12-month follow-ups. Patients were divided into ideators, single attempters, and multiple attempters. We found evidence for decreased suicidality, but interpreted it as the gradual action of interpersonal support, rather than as emotional catharsis. Also, multiple attempt status affected the long-term course of post-crisis suicidality.

Publication Title

Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior