Structured diagnostic assessment and depot fluphenazine treatment of multiple suicide attempters in the emergency department

John Battaglia, Timothy K. Wolff, Debra S. Wagner-Johnson, A. John Rush, Thomas J. Carmody, Monica Ramirez Basco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of two doses of monthly intramuscular (i.m.) injections of fluphenazine decanoate in reducing self-harm behaviours in outpatients with histories of multiple suicide attempts. Fifty-eight patients who presented to a psychiatric emergency service after an attempted suicide and who had histories of multiple suicide attempts, were randomized to receive monthly i.m. injections of fluphenazine decanoate. Thirty patients received monthly 12.5 mg ('low' dose), and 28 patients received monthly 1.5 mg ('ultra low' dose) under double-blind conditions. DSM-III-R diagnoses were obtained on all patients using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R-Patient Version (SCID-P) and SCID for DSM-III-R Personality Disorders (SCID-II). Outcomes were assessed by the Parasuicide History Inventory and the Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale, collected monthly for 6 months. Patients had an average of six current Axis I and 2.6 Axis II diagnoses, with borderline personality (85%) and alcohol dependence (58%) occurring most frequently in the sample. Both the low dose and ultra-low dose groups showed a marked reduction in self-harm behaviours. For 'serious' self-harm behaviours, there was a trend for a greater effect of the low dose over the ultra low dose group, however, the differences did not reach statistical significance. A survival analysis indicated that the presence of 'acute' stressors at baseline and female sex were risk factors for continuing (post-randomization) 'serious' self-harm behaviours, while younger age and the absence of concurrent general medical conditions were risk factors for all self-harm behaviours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-372
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999


  • Attempted suicide
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Fluphenazine
  • Psychiatry emergency services
  • Self-destructive behaviour
  • Self-injurious behaviour
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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