Relationship Between Executive dysfunction and Suicidal Attempt in Adults Diagnosed with Depression: A Systematic Review

Maria Camila Arbelaez, Valentina Grand, Daniel Alfredo Landinez


Introduction: Suicide attempt has become a public health problem worldwide. Identifying the different risk factors involved in this behavior can result in prevention and intervention alternatives. This phenomenon is associated with environmental, cognitive, psychological, behavioral, biological, and genetic factors.

Method: The search was carried out on Web of Science and Scopus on March, 2023, using the following search equation: topic= “Suicide” AND “Suicidal behaviour” AND “Executive functioning” AND “mood” AND “intervention” OR “psychological treatment” with a date range from January 2001 to March 2023. The reporting follows the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guideline for systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Once the results were obtained, they were loaded onto the Tree of Science platform.

Results: Quantitative results were organized into three trends: Neurobiological factors associated with the attempt of suicidal behavior in adults diagnosed with depression, cognitive factors associated with suicide attempt in adults diagnosed with depression, and potential intervention alternatives for the treatment of suicidal ideation and suicide attempt in adults diagnosed with depression.

Conclusion: Executive dysfunction results in various changes in patients with depressive disorder and a history of suicidal behavior. It is also related to functional variations in the brain, in neural networks and circuits, as well as neuroendocrine changes. The dorsolateral, ventral, and orbitofrontal prefrontal cortex are implicated in this phenomenon. A multidimensional interpretation of this problem is proposed, and the need to identify and promote effective interventions that can help prevent suicide attempt and avoid future relapses.


Suicide attempt; Executive functioning; Adults; Depression; Intervention; Psychological treatment.

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