Seventy percent of people living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) attempt suicide. Ten percent of those diagnosed with BPD complete suicide, a suicide rate that is several times higher than that of any other mental illness.
One of the many symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, as described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V), is “recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats.” The DSM also describes chronic emptiness and impulsivity as criteria for a diagnosis of BPD.
According to a 2008 study of 35,000 adults, 5 to 9 percent of the United States population meets the criteria for BPD. That equals about 18 million Americans who have thoughts of suicide or have made suicide attempts.
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Why do so many struggle with suicidal thoughts and attempts when they have Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms
The BPD symptoms of impulsivity, hopelessness, emptiness, and tendency toward self-harm are just a few of BPD’s nine symptoms, as described in the DSM-V.
To meet a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, you must show “a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the common symptoms.
BPD and Co-Occurring Disorders
Co-occurring disorders may contribute to the high rate of suicide attempts and completions in those with Borderline Personality Disorder. About 85 percent of people with BPD also meet the diagnostic criteria for another mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
One common co-occurring mental illness is severe depression. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found a significant increase in the number and seriousness of suicide attempts when depression and BPD were co-occurring.
“Hopelessness and impulsive aggression independently increase the risk of suicidal behavior in patients with Borderline Personality Disorder and in patients with major depressive episode,” said researchers. When these disorders occur together, such symptoms only get worse.
Other co-occurring disorders, such as Bipolar Disorder or substance abuse, may also contribute to suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Borderline Personality Disorder Treatment
Borderline Personality Disorder treatment centers offer help for the symptoms of BPD, including suicidal thoughts and attempts, in the form of therapies such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
If you are experiencing suicidal or self-harming behavior, a Borderline Personality Disorder residential treatment center will give you the consistent support you need to stop hurting yourself and learn healthy ways to cope.
With Borderline Personality Disorder treatment, hope for recovery from this painful and life-threatening disorder is out there. Marsha Linehan, the developer of DBT, made it public in 2011 that she herself had battled Borderline Personality Disorder throughout her life, having been hospitalized for the illness in her youth and surviving multiple suicide attempts.
“I decided to get supersuicidal people, the very worst cases, because I figured these are the most miserable people in the world — they think they’re evil, that they’re bad, bad, bad — and I understood that they weren’t,” said Linehan in a 2011 New York Times article. “I understood their suffering because I’d been there, in hell, with no idea how to get out.”
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