The hidden cause of suicide

Posted on October 1, 2014

Perfectionism is a bigger risk factor in suicide than is often thought, according to new research.

Perfectionism is the need to be – or to appear – perfect. Perfectionists are persistent, detailed and organized high achievers. They vary in their behaviors: some strive to conceal their imperfections; others attempt to project an image of perfection. But all perfectionists have in common extremely high standards for themselves or for others. It involves being highly self-critical, constantly striving to meet the standards of others (typically parents or mentors) and being unsure about the efficacy of one’s own actions.

It’s not hard to see how setting impossibly high standards for yourself would sometimes lead to negative feelings when these standards are not met. While a certain amount of perfectionism is adaptive and necessary, when it becomes an obsession, it can lead to a vicious cycle. Research data shows consistent links between perfectionism and hopelessness and discuss the need for an individualized approach that recognizes the heightened risk for perfectionists.

At the same time, perfectionists are adept at hiding these feelings from others — after all, it would contradict their perfectionist persona to admit to suicidal thoughts. They like to maintain a mask of cool invulnerability to others, while inside their thoughts and emotions are anything but calm. They also tend to experience hopelessness, psychological pain, life stress, overgeneralization, and a form of emotional perfectionism that restricts the willingness to disclose suicidal urges and intentions.

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Source material from PSY Blog

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