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Neuroticism and Extroversion in Suicide Attempters Aged 75 and Above and a General Population Comparison Group

Journal article
Authors Stefan Wiktorsson
Anne Ingeborg Berg
Eva Billstedt
Paul Duberstein
Thomas Marlow
Ingmar Skoog
Margda Waern
Published in Aging & Mental Health
Volume 17
Issue 4
Pages 479-488
ISSN 1360-7863
Publication year 2013
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Department of Psychology
Pages 479-488
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2012.74...
https://gup.ub.gu.se/file/152898
Keywords elderly, suicide attempters, neuroticism, extroversion, depression
Subject categories Other Medical Sciences

Abstract

Personality traits have been shown to influence suicidal behaviour but the literature on ‘older’ elderly is sparse. The aim was to compare neuroticism and extroversion in hospitalized suicide attempters aged 75 and above and a general population comparison group. Seventy-two hospitalized suicide attempters (mean age 81 years) were interviewed. Comparison subjects were drawn from participants in population studies on health and ageing. Participants completed the Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI) and symptoms of depression were rated with the Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Depression diagnoses were made in accordance with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition. Attempters scored higher on the neuroticism scale than comparison subjects (mean = 9.9 vs. 7.6, t = 3.74, df = 358, p < 0.001) and lower on the extroversion scale (mean = 10.8 vs. 12.0; t = −2.76, df = 358, p = 0.006). While these differences did not remain after adjustment for major depression, attempters with minor depression were less neurotic than comparison subjects with this diagnosis (mean = 6.6 vs. 11.1, t = −3.35, df = 63, p = 0.001) and a negative association with neuroticism remained in a multivariate model. In conclusion cases scored higher on neuroticism and lower on extroversion compared to comparison subjects. The finding that attempters with minor depression were less neurotic than comparison subjects with this diagnosis was unexpected and needs to be examined in larger samples.

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