patients following a suicide attempt
T. DIETZFELBINGER, A. KURZ, A. TORHORST and H. J. MÖLLER
The results of different studies describing hopelessness or pessimism as an essential characteristic of depression with a special relation to suicidality ( Beck, 1963) induced Becket al. ( 1974) to develop the 'Hopelessness Scale', an instrument designed to determine hopelessness in a standardised manner. In the following years, as a result of further studies, several authors drew the conclusion that hopelessness could be the connecting link between depression and suicide ( Minkoffet al. 1973; Becket al. 1975; Wetzel, 1976; Dyer and Kreitman, 1984).
It is a question not only of theoretical but also of practical interest whether the Hopelessness Scale has a predictive value with respect to relapse of suicidal behaviour. For this purpose, Becket al. ( 1985), in a prospective study, examined more than 200 patients with present suicidal ideation who had not made a recent suicide attempt. After more than five years, they compared the data of the persons who had died from suicide in the meantime with the data of the remaining patients, and found significantly higher values on the Hopelessness Scale in the first group. How many more patients had attempted suicide during the follow-up period without dying and what degree of hopelessness this group had were not examined.
In the present study, the German version of the Hopelessness Scale ( Krampen, 1979) was used on a large sample of patients who had recently attempted suicide. The first aspect we analysed was the relationship between the Hopelessness Scale, actual psychopathological state and personality traits. The second aspect was the predictive value of the Hopelessness Scale with respect to