Study: Standards of Perfection To Blame For Suicide

Beauty & Style | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 10/01/2014 | 11:00 AM EDT

Researchers call on mental health professionals to pay closer attention to those who strive to be flawless

Beyonce may have inspired the nation to be "flawless," but it appears striving to be just that could be deadly.

A newly released study revealed that pressures to live up to standards of perfection are linked to suicide.

Data from the new paper published in the Review of General Psychology says that the dangers of perfectionism are often underestimated by mental health experts, and that it goes far beyond trying one’s best.


"Perfectionistic people typically believe that they can never be good enough, that mistakes are signs of personal flaws, and that the only route to acceptability as a person is to be perfect," study author Gordon Flett told New York Magazine.

Flett said that clinicians who assess suicide risk should take a closer look at patients' perfectionism.

Flett and his co-authors said that societal demands are often linked to hopelessness and suicide. They added that perfectionists may present a pristine image of themselves but yet struggle deeply inside--and suicide can occur unwarned. The authors point out that perfectionists often develop very thorough suicide plans.

The researchers called for preventive measures and initiatives that are specifically directed to certain personality traits.


While determining a person of perfectionism may appear rather subjective, their behavior is quite distinct in nature, often exhibiting unhealthy expectations of themselves. Perfectionists strain compulsively and unceasingly toward unobtainable goals, and measure their self-worth by productivity and accomplishment. A 2013 study found a link between perfectionism and workaholism.

More than 1 million people worldwide commit suicide every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(Photo: Inti St Clair/Blend Images/Corbis)

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