Date of Award

May 2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Marty Sapp

Committee Members

Stephen Wester, Susie Lamborn, Paul Dupont

Keywords

Interpersonal Theory of Suicide, Suicide Attempt Types, Suicidology

Abstract

Although suicide is now being the second leading cause of death in college and university students, there continues to be a lack of research examining the three types of suicide attempts (i.e., aborted, interrupted, and actual). Interrupted suicide attempts have been found to be predictive of death by suicide, and aborted suicide attempts have been found to be highly associated with an actual suicide attempt (Barber, Marzuk, Leon, & Portera, 1998; Steer, Beck, Garrison, & Lester, 1988). Research continues to suggest a lifetime number of suicide attempts is regarded as one of the strongest predictors of future suicide (Suominen et al., 2004). However, no study to date has examined how the combination of lifetime number of suicide attempts and suicide attempt type may impact risk. The Suicide Attempt Rating Scale (SARS) was created by the author to include the three different types of suicide attempts, as well as the lifetime number of suicide attempts for each type, which was utilized as a measure of acquired capability.This study investigated the relationships among thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness, and acquired capability in predicting current suicidal ideation. Results did not support the hypotheses that thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness are moderated by acquired capability when predicting suicidal ideation. However, findings suggested that both thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness predicted suicidal ideation. Meaning, that when college students have an increased feeling that they do not belong and an increased feeling like they are a burden on others, they have higher rates of suicidal thoughts. These results can be utilized in future research studies with college students to include both perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness when predicting suicidal ideation. Also, in suicide prevention efforts on college campuses, rather than solely addressing depression through depression screenings, we must expand our reach to include risk and protective factors such as social isolation. In conclusion, this study validated the Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide within the college population by utilizing the INQ-15 (Interpersonal Needs Questionnaire), which should continue to be used on college campuses to best support suicide prevention efforts. As with all studies, limitations should be noted, such as constraints placed on the study by the IRB, the leptokurtic nature of SARS, and the reliance on self-report. Future studies should consider a mediational analysis, qualitative methodology, and other theoretical models for suicidal behavior.

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