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Life trajectories and burden of adversity: mapping the developmental profiles of suicide mortality


Little is known about differential suicide profiles across the life trajectory. This study introduces the life-course method in suicide research with the aim of refining the longitudinal and cumulative assessment of psychosocial factors by quantifying accumulation of burden over time in order to delineate distinctive pathways of completed suicide.


The psychological autopsy method was used to obtain third-party information on consecutive suicides. Life-history calendar analysis served to arrive at an adversity score per 5-year segment that was then cluster-analysed and correlated to define victim profiles.


Two distinct life trajectories emerged: (1) individuals who experienced childhood traumas, developmental adversity and little protection were more likely to present concurrent psychiatric and Axis II disorders; and (2) individuals who experienced less adversity but seemed more reactive to later major difficulties.


The life calendar approach presented here in suicide research adds to the identification of life events, distal and recent, previously associated with suicide. It also quantifies the burden of adversity over the life course, defining two distinct profiles that could benefit from distinct targeted preventive intervention.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Monique Séguin, Ph.D., McGill Group for Suicide Studies, Douglas Hospital, Frank B. Common pavilion, 2nd floor, 6875 LaSalle Blvd, Verdun (Quebec), H4H 1R3Canada. (Email:
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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
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