Trauma can impact several aspects of an individual’s life. It is known to specifically affect the occurrence or risk of suicide ideation or intent, known as suicidality, in vulnerable trauma victims.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Personality Factors

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops after being exposed to a traumatic event. It is also a risk factor for suicidal behaviors and thoughts. Although comorbidities like depression and substance use disorder also contribute to suicidality in people with PTSD, a specific piece of literature evaluates other predictors that impact suicidality in individuals suffering from PTSD.

The literature identifies several personality factors associated with suicidality.

The five main personality factors evaluated used openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Of these five factors high neuroticism and low extraversion were associated with suicidal ideation, attempt, and completion. This same combination of high neuroticism and low extraversion also contributes to the diagnosis of PTSD.

On the other hand, high agreeableness and conscientiousness were identified as protective factors of suicidality in the general population as these personality factors are associated with lower suicidality. Unfortunately, for individuals with PTSD who have experienced interpersonal traumas, high agreeableness and conscientiousness predicted higher suicidality. Other personality factors associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviors include hopelessness, impulsivity, and perfectionism.

Interpersonal Trauma

Trauma also influences suicidality in individuals with PTSD. Trauma can manifest in the form of interpersonal trauma or non-interpersonal trauma.

Interpersonal trauma specifically increased suicidality. Interpersonal traumas involve interactions between an individual and other people. For example, instances of domestic abuse are considered interpersonal, whereas non-interpersonal traumas do not involve other people. Examples of non-interpersonal traumas include financial troubles or natural disasters.

Interpersonal trauma has proved to be more likely to cause PTSD and is more closely related to the severity of depression compared to non-interpersonal traumas.  This concept of interpersonal trauma plays a big role in the relationship between suicidality and personal factors. Interpersonal trauma amongst those with PTSD is more common in younger individuals and females.


Vulnerability is referred to as the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed physically or emotionally. Victims of trauma tend to live in a vulnerable state after these traumatic events. This vulnerability is associated with a fear of repeating or reliving past traumas or being shamed and judged for what you have already experienced. It also explains why interpersonal traumas are more common in younger females as they can be more emotional and vulnerable with or without having experienced a trauma. Younger individuals also are most vulnerable due to a sense of innocence and lack of awareness or information.

However, in some instances, vulnerability can be a good thing. Although it has clear associations with trauma, vulnerability can also help us move forward and free ourselves from past traumas. By letting the right people in, we can slowly release some of the burdens and in severe cases suicidal thoughts and behaviors related to traumatic experiences.

Sources: Yoo, Yongjoon, et al. “Interpersonal Trauma Moderates the Relationship between Personality Factors and Suicidality of Individuals with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” PloS One, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 12 Jan. 2018,

Reference: From Taylor Griggs’s Blog