, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 439-460

Dimensions of perfectionism and suicide ideation

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Two studies were conducted to examine the relation between dimensions of perfectionsim and suicide ideation: whether perfectionism is important in suicide ideation when considered in the context of other predictors of suicide (i.e., depression, hopelessness), and whether perfectionism moderates the association between life stress and suicide ideation. Samples of 91 psychiatric patients (Study 1) and 160 college students (Study 2) completed the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, the Hopelessness Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Scale For Suicide Ideation. The subjects in Study 2 also completed a measure of negative life stress. Overall, the results confirmed that self-oriented and socially prescribed perfectionism are associated with greater suicide ideation. Moreover, these two perfectionism dimensions contributed uniquely to the discrimination of suicide groups and both moderated the link between life stress and suicide ideation. The findings are discussed in terms of their practical and theoretical implications.

This research was supported by grant 410-91-1690 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada as well as by a grant from the Research and Program Evaluation Committee, Brockville Psychiatric Hospital. An earlier version of this paper was presented at a symposium on perfectionism at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Quebec City, June 1992. The authors wish to thank Barbara Calvert, Marjorie Cousins, Mary Kronenwald, and Lois Ritchie for their assistance and Norman Endler, Ron Norton, Rick Ingram, and two reviewers for their comments and suggestions.