BACKGROUND : Suicide mortality rates are higher in people with personality disorders, especially
those who have antisocial personality traits. These mortality rates are also higher in people
who have committed offences. Antisocial personality traits are very common in populations
who have committed offences and in forensic psychiatric patients.
AIM : To determine if male State patients with antisocial personality traits had a higher risk of
suicide compared with patients with no antisocial personality traits. We tried to identify other
risk factors for attempted suicide in this population.
SETTING : Weskoppies Hospital’s Forensic Unit, Pretoria, South Africa.
METHODS : Of the 275 male State patients, 37 had antisocial personality traits and were included
in the study. Of the remaining State patients, we randomly selected 37 control group
participants, who had no antisocial personality traits. For each participant, we completed a
data capturing sheet and a Beck’s Suicide Ideation Scale (BSIS). We compared suicide risk and
associated factors between study and control group participants.
RESULTS : Study group and control group participants had the same current suicide risk.
Overall, 63 participants (85.14%) had no current suicide risk. Of the 11 (14.86%) remaining
participants with current suicide risk, 5 had antisocial personality traits. Eighteen had previous
suicide attempts, 13 of whom had antisocial personality traits.
CONCLUSION : State patients with and without antisocial personality traits had similar current
suicide risk. Although antisocial personality disorder is an identified risk factor for suicide,
it was not the case in this study. Assessment of other risk factors for suicide should be