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Suicide tendencies high in perfectionists

Suicide tendencies high in perfectionists
Highlights

Toronto: Perfectionists may be at an increased risk of suicide, scientists have warned.Perfectionism is a bigger risk factor in suicide than we may think, said scientists who called for closer attention to its potential destructiveness.

Toronto: Perfectionists may be at an increased risk of suicide, scientists have warned.

Perfectionism is a bigger risk factor in suicide than we may think, said scientists who called for closer attention to its potential destructiveness.

Researchers said that clinical guidelines should include perfectionism as a separate factor for suicide risk assessment and intervention.

"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," said Professor Gordon Flett from York University.

More than one million people worldwide, including over 40,000 North Americans commit suicide on an annual basis, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Preventions 2012 estimation. Flett and his co-authors Professor Paul Hewitt of the University of British Columbia and Professor Marnin Heisel of Western University note that physicians, lawyers and architects, whose occupations emphasise on precision, and also those in leadership roles are at higher risk for perfectionism-related suicide.

Researchers highlight several concerns, including how suicide thoughts can be linked to external pressures to be perfect.

The authors document how being exposed to relentless demands to be perfect, a concept they refer to as socially prescribed perfectionism, is linked consistently with hopelessness and suicide.

"We summarise data showing consistent links between perfectionism and hopelessness and discuss the need for an individualised approach that recognises the heightened risk for perfectionists," Flett said. "They also tend to experience hopelessness, psychological pain, life stress, over generalisation, and a form of emotional perfectionism that restricts the willingness to disclose suicidal urges and intentions," said Flett.

The findings are published in the American Psychological Association journal, Review of General Psychology.

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