Suicidal behavior is a major cause of injury and death in bipolar disorder. We measured the relationship between a history of suicide attempt and brain activation to a flashing checkerboard task in bipolar disorder using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We compared activity between suicide attempters and non-attempters and we separately tested the relationship between brain activity and the number of past suicide attempts. These two analyses produced distinct patterns of results that indicated a mood-state independent relationship between suicide attempts and prefrontal and cerebellar activity. These findings suggest that accounting for multiple attempters may strengthen studies of suicidal behavior.