, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 1-12

Interpersonal problem solving and parasuicide

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This study examined the relationship between interpersonal problem solving and suicidal behavior among psychiatric patients. Subjects were 123 psychiatric inpatients, admitted for current parasuicide, serious suicide ideation, or non-suicide-related complaints. A group of 16 orthopedic surgery patients was included to control for hospitalization trauma and current stress. All subjects completed a revised version of the Means-End Problem Solving Procedure, the Rathus Assertiveness Schedule, and a suicide expectancy measure. Psychiatric patients scored lower than the medical control group on the assertive schedule, but no differences were noted as a function of suicidal behavior status. Psychiatric patients expected suicide to solve problems more than did controls. Suicidal patients had higher expectancies than did nonsuicidal patients. Active interpersonal problem solving did not distinguish suicidal and nonsuicidal psychiatric patients but did separate parasuicides from suicide ideators. Among patients without a parasuicide history, less active and greater passive problem solving discriminated first-time parasuicides from suicide ideators and nonsuicidals. Results suggest that assertion deficits may characterize the psychiatric population in general, but suicidal behavior within psychiatric patients may be related to lower active problem solving.