Violent obsessions are associated with suicidality in an OCD analog sample of college students

The picture of suicide in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is unclear because previous research did not uniformly control for depressive symptoms when examining the relationship between OCD and suicidality. Specific links between OC symptom dimensions and suicidality were also not adequately studied. As such, we investigated specific associations between OC symptom dimensions and suicidality, beyond the contribution of depressive symptoms, in an OCD analog sample of college students, a group traditionally at risk for suicide. One hundred and forty-six college students (103 females; 43 males) who exceeded the clinical cut-off for OC symptoms on the Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory, Revised (OCI-R) were recruited. Participants completed an online questionnaire containing measures that assessed suicidality and OC and depressive symptom severity. Total OC symptom severity, unacceptable thoughts, and especially violent obsessions exhibited significant positive zero-order correlations with suicidality. However, analyses of part correlations indicated that only violent obsessions had a significant unique association with suicidality after controlling for depressive symptoms. Our findings support the hypothesis that violent obsessions have a specific role in suicidality beyond the influence of depressive symptoms in an OCD analog sample of college students. A strong clinical focus on suicide risk assessment and safety planning in college students reporting violent obsessions is therefore warranted. Future related research should employ longitudinal or prospective designs and control for other possible comorbid symptoms in larger and more representative samples of participants formally diagnosed with OCD in order to verify the generalizability of our findings to these groups.

Read the full paper: Ching, T. H., Williams, M., & Siev, J. (2017). Violent obsessions are associated with suicidality in an OCD analog sample of college students. Cognitive behaviour therapy, 46(2), 129-140.

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