BIS sensitivity, BAS sensitivity, and recent suicide attempts

Craig J. Bryan, Michael Kyron, Andrew C. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
54 Downloads (Pure)


Suicide attempts are motivated by the desire to escape aversive states and circumstances, suggesting they may be regulated by the behavioral inhibition system (BIS). Suicide attempts are also associated with reward pursuit, however, implicating a role for the behavioral activation system (BAS). We hypothesized that the interaction of high BIS and BAS sensitivity would be associated with increased risk of past-month suicide attempt. 10,625 adults completed an anonymous online survey assessing BIS sensitivity, BAS sensitivity, past-month suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, and relevant covariates. Results of logistic regression modeling yielded a statistically significant BIS-BAS interaction in the full sample and the subset of participants reporting past-month suicidal ideation (n = 489). At low BIS levels, BAS sensitivity was negatively correlated with suicide attempts; at mean BIS levels, BAS sensitivity was not correlated with suicide attempts; and at high BIS levels, BAS sensitivity was positively correlated with suicide attempts. Results suggest that vulnerability to suicide attempts may be increased among people with heightened reward responsiveness (i.e., high BAS sensitivity) when they experience competing incentives (i.e., high BIS sensitivity). Implications for clinical practice and the prevention of suicide are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111552
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


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