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Exposure to suicidal behaviors: A common suicide risk factor or a personal negative life event?


Harris, K and Bettiol, S, Exposure to suicidal behaviors: A common suicide risk factor or a personal negative life event?, International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 63, (1) pp. 70-77. ISSN 0020-7640 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

The Author(s) 2016

DOI: doi:10.1177/0020764016682361


Background: Numerous suicide risk factors have been proposed but not adequately validated for epidemiology, treatment and prevention efforts.

Aims: Exposures to suicidal behaviors (ESB), from family and friend suicide attempts and completions, were tested for validity as a suicidal risk factor and also for measurement and construct adequacy.

Methods: An anonymous online survey yielded 713 participants (aged 18-71), who reported ESB, completed the Suicidal Affect-Behavior-Cognition Scale (SABCS), and comprised a broad spectrum on those variables.

Results: Tests of dimensionality and internal consistency showed the four ESB variables (attempts/completions through family/friends) were independent and did not form a common factor or an identifiable ESB latent trait. ESB variables were, however, associated with demographic and psychiatric histories. A battery of tests revealed no meaningful associations between ESB and total suicidality or suicide risk factors (social support, depression, anxiety, stress, satisfaction with life and emotional stability). In addition, in contrast to previous reports, young adults (n = 200; aged 18-20) showed no increased suicidality due to ESB.

Conclusion: Results showed no validity for ESB as a common risk factor for suicidality or other psychopathology, or as a latent trait. ESB showed evidence as a personal negative life event with individual effects and interpretations.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:suicide prevention, contagion, risk factors, negative life events, risk assessment, psychopathology
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Provision of health and support services
Objective Field:Mental health services
UTAS Author:Harris, K (Dr Keith Harris)
UTAS Author:Bettiol, S (Dr Silvana Bettiol)
ID Code:114463
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2017-02-15
Last Modified:2018-08-27

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