Depression and impulsiveness among soldiers who died by suicide: A psychological autopsy study Academic Article uri icon


  • Introduction: Despite the accumulated knowledge about suicide, suicidal acts remain difficult to predict, and many suicides are acted out impulsively. Methods: We performed a psychological autopsy study based on inquiries about the deaths of all male soldiers aged 18-21 years who served in the Israeli army and died by suicide between 2009 and 2013 (n = 69). The study population was first divided into two groups: those who had depressive disorder (n = 31); and those who did not (n = 38). Socio-demographic characteristics of the subjects and the characteristics of the suicidal act were compared. Afterwards, the study population was re-divided by the presence or absence of impulsive personality traits (n = 22, and n = 47, respectively), and investigated for distinct suicidal behavior features. Results: No significant socio-demographic differences were found between the depressed and non-depressed suicide victims. The depressed group had showed more signs of planning the act (47% vs. 23%), and had expressed suicidal ideation in the days preceding the suicide (51.6% vs. 21%). One third of the subjects were found to have an impulsive personality trait, with significantly more histories of disciplinary issues, violence and cluster B personality disorders. Alcohol use during the act was significantly more prevalent among impulsive than non-impulsive subjects (45.4% vs. 14.9%). Conclusion: Identification of distinct clinical groups of suicide victims among young males might help clinicians evaluate high risk cases, and may provide valuable opportunities to alleviate and prevent these events in the future.

publication date

  • August 1, 2018