The process of suicidal planning among medical doctors: predictors in a longitudinal Norwegian sample

Tyssen R, Hem E, Vaglum P, Grønvold NT / Gronvold NT, Ekeberg O. J Affect Disord. 2004 Jun; 80 (2-3):191-8. 

Article in English.

Abstract on Pubmed:
BACKGROUND: The suicidal process is a common underlying perspective on suicidal behaviour, but the process has hardly been empirically studied. This study investigates the process from suicidal thoughts to suicidal planning among physicians; an occupational group with a raised risk of suicide. The process is studied in two ways: First, predictors at medical school of postgraduate suicidal planning are identified. Second, the transition from suicidal thoughts to planning over three to four years is explored. METHODS: A nationwide cohort of Norwegian medical students (N=631) were approached initially in their final semester (T1), and then again in the first (T2) and fourth (T3) postgraduate years. The average observation time was 3.6 years. RESULTS: Twenty-eight participants (6%) reported suicidal planning in the postgraduate years. Adjusted predictors at T1 were vulnerability trait (neuroticism), severe depressive symptoms, and negative life events. Among those with previous suicidal thoughts at T1, 13 (8%) reported suicidal planning at T2 or T3. Adjusted predictors of transition from thoughts to planning were reality weakness trait, severe depressive symptoms, and a low level of perceived medical school stress. A minority of the postgraduate planners had sought professional care. LIMITATIONS: The effect of severe depressive symptoms may be overestimated, and the sample size is relatively small. CONCLUSIONS: Common predictors for both postgraduate suicidal planning and transition from thoughts to planning were depressive symptoms and personality traits. Reality weakness was the most decisive trait for aggravation in suicidal ideation, and this personality trait needs further study in suicidal research and clinical awareness. Copyright 2003 Elsevier B.V.