Suicide and violence risk: Predictors of aggressive expression

Daniel Jonathan Greenwald, Fordham University


Two theoretical camps have existed regarding the relationship between suicide and violence. One perspective held that suicide and violence were inversely related, while the second purported that risk for one might indicate risk for the other.^ The purpose of this study was twofold: (a) to examine the relationship between risk for violence and risk for suicide in a patient population--alcoholics--known to be at risk for these behaviors, and (b) to investigate potential predictors/mediators of suicide risk alone, violence risk alone, and combined aggressive risk (risk for suicide and violence). Suicide and violence risk were considered dependent variables. The independent variables/mediators selected for study were a set of 8 defense mechanisms and a set of 13 disordered personality styles. Maladaptive personality styles and defenses have been linked in the literature to aggressive risk.^ Seventy-four male alcoholics were administered: (a) the Suicide Risk Scale, (b) the Past Feelings and Acts of Violence scale, (c) the Life Style Index, a measure of defenses, and (d) the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-II, a personality measure.^ Suicide and violence risk were significantly non-inversely associated. Nevertheless, the results indicated that few of the hypothesized relations between aggressive risk, defense mechanisms, and personality styles were borne out. This may have been due to notable disparities between the score distribution shapes of the comparison variables which lowered their degree of association.^ Although the study variables did not align in their expected directions, a group of independent variables related to violence risk alone (antisocial personality style was the best predictor in this group), one related to suicide risk alone (here borderline personality style best predicted suicide risk alone), and a third related to risk for suicide and violence were located (the defense of displacement and alcohol and drug use). An attempt was made to explain these connections in terms of clinical theory.^ It was concluded from obtained evidence that there was some overlap between risk for suicide and risk for violence as predicted by the model of aggression utilized in the investigation, and that a different set of factors mediated risk for suicide only, risk for violence only, and combined aggressive risk. ^

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Personality psychology

Recommended Citation

Greenwald, Daniel Jonathan, "Suicide and violence risk: Predictors of aggressive expression" (1991). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9127034.