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Theses Doctoral

Demographic and Psychiatric Correlates of Suicide Attempt in a Nationally Representative Sample

Rossi, Adam Joshua

The increasing prevalence of suicidal behaviors in the United States inflicts massive emotional and economic costs in the United States (CDC, 2012). Efforts to detect and prevent these behaviors have not resulted in overall reduction of these costs, and could be enhanced with new approaches to assessing risk for specific suicide outcomes (Klonsky & May, 2014). Several contemporary theories of suicide make distinctions between suicide outcomes (i.e., suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, suicide death) that are often conflated in studies of suicide risk (Joiner, 2005; O'Connor & Kirtley, 2018). The present research, borne of these theories, sought to examine whether known demographic and psychiatric risk factors for suicide help distinguish between respondents of a nationally-representative survey measure, who reported either a history of suicidal ideation, a history of suicide attempt, or neither of these experiences. Significant differences were observed when comparing individuals reporting a history of attempt or ideation with individuals reporting no suicide history across many of these factors. Significant associations were also observed when comparing those reporting a history of ideation and those reporting a history of attempt, suggesting that these factors may provide some degree of incremental validity for the detection of risk, specifically for suicide attempt. Demographically, race/ethnicity and level of education yielded the most significant distinctions between those reporting a history of ideation and history of attempt. Psychiatrically, antisocial and borderline personality disorders and a history of mania yielded the most significant distinctions between those reporting a history of ideation and history of attempt. These results could be applied in developing screening measures for individuals at increased risk for making suicide attempts, which carry their own emotional and economic costs when not resulting in death, and are also highly associated with eventual mortality by suicide. These applications as well as study limitations will be discussed in detail.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Clinical Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Farber, Barry A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 10, 2019