Surprising New Findings about Suicide


Home / Surprising New Findings about Suicide
The are various reasons for attempting suicide. Image by

By understanding the motivations behind suicidal behavior, caregivers can prevent loss of life. Image by epSos

Suicide Prevention: Understanding the Problem is The First Step Toward a Solution

In June 2013, two researchers from the University of British Columbia published a measure they created to assess motivations for suicide. In order to increase knowledge about suicide prevention and treatment, David Klonsky and Alexis May tackled the issue of why people attempt suicide.

The researchers presented their study tool, a questionnaire about ten different possible motivations, to 120 students who had attempted suicide within the past three years.

Results of the students’ questionnaires revealed that two motivations appeared universally: Overwhelming emotional pain, and a sense of hopelessness. The suicide attempts were rarely cries for help or impulsive acts; that finding negates the common perception of suicide attempts. The attempts also did not often stem from financial difficulties.

Motivating factors that most contributed to the desire to die were internal, such as a sense of hopelessness, rather than environmental or external.

This was the first study that has addressed suicidal motivation. To encourage others to follow in their path, Klonsky and May have made their tool clinically available.

Preventing Loss of Life

Across the globe, suicide is a prevalent cause of death. Mental health practitioners and physicians can glean insight from recent studies to recognize increased risk of suicide in their patients. Suicide is not always preventable, but psychiatric intervention for those who are susceptible can minimize the tragic occurrence of suicide.


The University of British Columbia. First major study of suicide motivations to advance prevention. (2013). Accessed on June 17, 2013.

May, A. and Klonsky, E., Assessing Motivations for Suicide Attempts: Development and Psychometric Properties of the Inventory of Motivations for Suicide Attempts. (2013). Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. Accessed on June 17, 2013.

Swanson, S. and Colman, I. Association between exposure to suicide and suicidality outcomes in youth. (2013). CMAJ. Accessed on June 17, 2013.

Crump, C., et. al. Sociodemographic, psychiatric and somatic risk factors for suicide: a Swedish national cohort study. (2013). Psychological Medicine.  Accessed on June 17, 2013.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine. More sleep may decrease the risk of suicide in people with insomnia. (2013). Accessed on June 17, 2013.

Lawrence, D., The gap in life expectancy from preventable physical illness in psychiatric patients in Western Australia: retrospective analysis of population based registers. (2013). BMJ. Accessed on June 17, 2013.

Leave a Comment