There have been few psychological autopsy studies of suicide among individuals with personality disorders. The possible specificity of characteristics of suicide among such individuals has been little investigated.
A random sample of 229 subjects who committed suicide, representing all suicide victims in Finland within a 12-month period, were comprehensively examined by using the psychological autopsy method and were diagnosed according to DSM-III-R criteria. Within this random sample the authors investigated all subjects with axis II personality disorders (N = 67) and divided them into clusters B (N = 43), C (N = 23), and A (N = 1). Individuals with clusters B and C personality disorders were separately compared with sex- and age-matched suicide victims without personality disorder, in terms of sociodemographic characteristics, comorbid axis I and III syndromes, treatment histories, previous suicide attempts, communication of suicide intent, and suicide methods.
All suicide victims with a personality disorder received at least one axis I diagnosis. In 95% this included a depressive syndrome, a psychoactive substance use disorder, or both. Individuals with cluster B personality disorders were more likely than comparison subjects to have psychoactive substance use disorders (79% versus 40%) and previous nonfatal suicide attempts (70% versus 37%) and were less likely to have axis III physical disorders (29% versus 50%). Subjects with cluster C personality disorders were not found to differ from the control subjects in any of the variables examined.
Suicide victims with personality disorders were almost always found to have had current depressive syndromes, psychoactive substance use disorders, or both. Suicide victims with cluster B personality disorders differed from other suicide victims in several characteristics, while those with cluster C personality disorders did not.