Daydreaming about death: Violent daydreaming as a form of emotion dysregulation in suicidality

Edward A. Selby, Michael D. Anestis, Thomas E. Joiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Scopus citations


Anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests that suicidal individuals may daydream about suicide as a method of mood regulation (including increasing positive affect). These daydreams may center on future suicidal plans, previous suicide attempts, or on the ways that others will react to their death. Yet, even though violent daydreams may increase positive affect in the short term, in the long run they may actually increase both suicidality and the ability to engage in suicidal behavior. In this study, a sample of 83 college students was given the Beck Depression Inventory, Anger Rumination Scale, and the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation. The authors hypothesized that a two-way interaction would exist between high levels of depression and high levels of violent daydreaming to predict increased levels of suicidality. Using linear regression, the results of this study supported the hypothesis. The clinical and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)867-879
Number of pages13
JournalBehavior Modification
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


  • Daydreaming
  • Emotion dysregulation
  • Fantasizing
  • Revenge
  • Suicide

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