BackgroundRecent attention has focused on the role of rumination in suicidality, with evidence indicating that rumination may be positively related to suicidal ideation. There remains disagreement on the nature of the relationship between rumination and suicide attempts, especially in major affective disorders. This study was designed to identify whether rumination is a risk factor for attempted suicide.MethodsA total of 309 patients with major depressive episodes were recruited for this study, including 170 patients with major depression and 139 patients with bipolar disorder. All participants were categorized into two groups based on a series of clinical assessments: suicide attempters (n = 87) and non-suicide attempters (n = 222). Rumination was evaluated with the Ruminative Responses Scale. A binary logistic regression analysis was carried out to evaluate the relationship between rumination and suicide attempts.ResultsBoth global ruminative levels and the two subtypes of rumination, brooding and reflection, were significantly higher in the suicide attempters than the non-suicide attempters. After controlling for age, current depression and anxiety symptoms, and episode frequency, it was found that global rumination and reflection (but not brooding) were positively associated with suicide attempts.ConclusionThese results suggest that rumination may be a risk factor for suicide attempts and highlight the maladaptive nature of reflection in patients with major depressive episodes.