Motor Impulsivity Predicts Suicide in Bipolar Disorder, Depression

woman outside looking down at night
woman outside looking down at night
Participants underwent diagnostic interviews and neuropsychological assessments for decision making and inhibitor control.

Self-reported motor impulsivity may be a significant predictor of suicide in patients with bipolar disorder and major depression, according to results published in Comprehensive Psychiatry.

These results indicate that impulsivity should be a target of interventions and public policy regarding suicide prevention.

The study included 2 groups of patients with bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder (n=52) and control patients matched by age and education (n=80). Of the patients with mood disorders, 26 had at least 1 previous suicide attempt (n=8 with major depressive disorder, n=9 with bipolar I, n=9 with bipolar II) and 26 had not previously attempted suicide (n=7 with major depressive disorder, n=10 with bipolar I, n=9 with bipolar II). Each participant completed behavioral and self-report measures of decision making and inhibitory control.

After analyzing the results, the researchers did not find a difference in cognitive performance between the groups.

The participants with mood disorders and a history of suicide attempt showed significantly higher motor and attentional impulsivity than the participants with mood disorders without a history of suicide attempt and control patients. After regression analysis, only motor impulsivity was a significant predictor of a history of suicide attempt (OR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.001 – 1.300).

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“These findings underscore the importance of self-report measures in neuropsychological assessment, and their contributions to the management and prognosis of patients with mood disorders,” the researchers wrote.


Ponsoni A, Branco LD, Cotrena C, et al. Self-reported inhibition predicts history of suicide attempts in bipolar disorder and major depression. Compr Psychiatry. 2018;82(4):89-94.