Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Departments/Programs

Psychology

First Advisor

Regina Miranda

Second Advisor

Danielle Berke

Academic Program Adviser

Sandeep Prasada

Abstract

Emotion dysregulation and intense affect have been found to differentiate people who only think about suicide from people who attempt suicide, and social support is a protective factor against suicide attempts. Prior research has not conceptualized social influences on affective processes as a cohesive process in the development and evaluation of suicide risk. The current study investigates the role of interpersonal emotion regulation (IER), or how others manage or change individuals’ emotions, in both chronic and acute suicide risk. IER can contribute to chronic suicide risk by influencing intrapersonal emotion regulation long-term, and increasing acquired capability through dysregulated behaviors such as non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). It can also be an aggravating factor in the moments preceding a suicide attempt or engagement in NSSI. To elucidate these relationships, we collected self-report measures of suicide ideation (SI), suicide attempts (SA), NSSI, and IER at two time points six weeks apart from a sample of young adults (N = 167). Regression analyses revealed that IER predicted SI, SA, and NSSI, but only cross-sectionally (not prospectively). Specifically, adaptive IER protected against SA, while punitive responses were associated with higher SI severity, lifetime SA, and lifetime NSSI. Contrary to expectations, invalidation/minimization buffered against lifetime NSSI. Effect sizes were stronger for analyses predicting SA and NSSI, compared to those predicting SI, suggesting that IER may differentiate between individuals who only think about suicide from those who engage in self-harm and suicidal behaviors.

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