Quest for Perfection May Greatly Boost Suicide Risk

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People who have a passion for perfection may be at a much greater risk for suicide, according to new research.

Gordon L. Flett, PhD, of York University, Toronto, Canada, and colleagues, argue in their study, published in Review of General Psychology, that while perfectionism and suicide have been linked in the past, the risk has been underestimated.

The researchers note that physicians, lawyers and architects, all occupations that rely on precision, as well as those in leadership positions, are at a higher risk of what they term “perfectionism-related suicide.”

“There is an urgent need for looking at perfectionism with a person-centred approach as an individual and societal risk factor, when formulating clinical guidelines for suicide risk assessment and intervention, as well as public health approaches to suicide prevention,” Flett said in a statement.

The researchers based their argument on data showing links between perfectionism and suicidal ideation and behavior.

They conclude that suicide prevention programs should be “tailored to key personality features with specific components that should enhance resilience and reduce levels of risk among perfectionists who hide behind a mask of apparent invulnerability.”

Quest for Perfectionism May Greatly Boost Suicide Risk
Quest for Perfectionism May Greatly Boost Suicide Risk
Perfectionism is a bigger risk factor in suicide than we may think, says York University Psychology Professor Gordon Flett, calling for closer attention to its potential destructiveness. He adds that clinical guidelines should include perfectionism as a separate factor for suicide risk assessment and intervention.
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