The Interpersonal Theory of Suicide

Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.
Psychological Review (Impact Factor: 9.8). 04/2010; 117(2):575-600. DOI: 10.1037/a0018697
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Suicidal behavior is a major problem worldwide and, at the same time, has received relatively little empirical attention. This relative lack of empirical attention may be due in part to a relative absence of theory development regarding suicidal behavior. The current article presents the interpersonal theory of suicidal behavior. We propose that the most dangerous form of suicidal desire is caused by the simultaneous presence of two interpersonal constructs-thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness (and hopelessness about these states)-and further that the capability to engage in suicidal behavior is separate from the desire to engage in suicidal behavior. According to the theory, the capability for suicidal behavior emerges, via habituation and opponent processes, in response to repeated exposure to physically painful and/or fear-inducing experiences. In the current article, the theory's hypotheses are more precisely delineated than in previous presentations (Joiner, 2005), with the aim of inviting scientific inquiry and potential falsification of the theory's hypotheses.

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    Implementation Science 12/2015; 10(1):221. DOI:10.1186/s13012-015-0221-5 · 3.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: The interpersonal theory of suicide posits that perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness are two causal interactive suicidal risk factors. The aim of this study was to examine whether therapists are affected by these factors upon assessing patients' suicide risk. Method: Using an experimental design, 388 mental health professionals were presented with a text vignette describing a hypothetical patient with either high or low perceived burdensomeness and with either high or low thwarted belongingness. Results: The findings revealed that both factors affected therapists' risk assessment of psychache, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt and resilience. Conclusions: The study results highlight the interpersonal theory as an important theory for understanding the factors upon which therapists and mental health professionals rely when assessing suicide risk.
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May 31, 2014