Relationship Between Malingering and Suicidality in Forensic Psychiatric Patients

Josiah Timithee Huggins, Fordham University


Although clinicians in a forensic setting may suspect that expressions of suicidal ideation or self-harm behavior may indicate malingering, little research has addressed this question. The current study examined the association between feigning and self-reported history of suicidality in forensic pretrial defendants, as well as the association between feigning and suicidal ideation or self-harm behaviors during hospitalization. Feigning was established using the Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM; Tombaugh, 1996), the Structured Interview of Reported Symptoms, 2nd Edition (SIRS-2; Rogers, Sewell, & Gillard, 2010) and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory – Second Edition, Restructured Format (MMPI-2-RF; Ben Porath & Tellegen, 2008). The Short-Term Assessment of Risk and Treatability (START) Outcomes Scale (SOS; Webster, Martin, Brink, Nicholls, & Desmarais, 2009) was used to assess suicidal and self-harm behaviors while hospitalized. Results indicated that roughly one third of the sample reported a history of self-injurious behavior, while 21.9% reported having attempted suicide prior to the current hospitalization. Psychological testing identified 12.4% of participants as likely feigning some psychological symptoms while 15 participants exhibited self-injurious behavior during hospitalization. Results suggested that a self-reported history of suicide attempts and self-injury were significantly related to feigning. However, there was no association between self-harm behaviors exhibited during hospitalization and evidence of feigning on the psychological testing administered. Finally, results indicated that there was also no association between self-reported self-injury or suicide attempts and self-injurious behavior while hospitalized. Overall, the results highlight the need to monitor forensic psychiatric patients, even when suspected of malingering, as the potential for self-injurious behavior exists.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Huggins, Josiah Timithee, "Relationship Between Malingering and Suicidality in Forensic Psychiatric Patients" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10278357.