Borderline personality features influence treatment response to suicide prevention

Kennedy M. Balzen, William F. Goette, Raney Sachs, Savannah M. Krantz, Jessica Heerschap, Betsy D. Kennard, Graham J Emslie, Sunita M Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Suicide is a notable risk for individuals with features of borderline personality disorder. Given the centrality of interpersonal difficulties in this disorder, we proposed that the negative interpersonal cognitions (perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness) identified by the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (IPTS) may explain the associations between suicidal ideation and borderline personality features. Method: Participants were 322 suicidal youth (74% girls) aged 11–18 years (M, SD = 14.74, 1.6) in an intensive outpatient program in the southwest United States. Youth completed measures assessing borderline personality features at program entry, and suicidal ideation and IPTS variables at entry and exit. Results: Borderline personality features did not moderate associations of IPTS variables and suicidal ideation. For the entire sample, changes in suicidal ideation from entry to discharge occurred in tandem with changes in perceived burdensomeness and depressive symptoms, but not thwarted belongingness. Youth with elevated borderline personality features entered with greater suicidal ideation, but improved more from treatment entry to exit. Regardless of level of borderline personality features, changes in negative interpersonal cognitions over treatment were associated with changes in suicidal ideation. Limitations: Self-report measures and lack of sample diversity are study limitations. Conclusions: This research highlights the clinical utility of the IPTS variables and the importance of promoting competence and interpersonal connectedness when treating this population. Findings indicate that the IPTS variables carry the same fundamental information for contributing to suicidal ideation, regardless of level of borderline personality features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-522
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of affective disorders
StatePublished - Aug 15 2022


  • Adolescent suicide
  • Borderline personality features
  • Suicide prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Borderline personality features influence treatment response to suicide prevention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this