We examined the hypothesis that depressive symptoms are associated with increased beliefs about perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness identified in the interpersonal psychological theory of suicide and that these beliefs are associated with changes in suicidal ideation. Participants with clinical levels of depressive symptoms (n= 299) were selected from a larger group (n= 508) and completed measures of depressive symptoms, perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness, and suicidal ideation twice over a period of 2. months. Results of a structural equation model found that depressive symptoms were associated with increases in burdensomeness and lack of belonging, which were associated with suicidal ideation. Moreover, this hypothesized integrated model demonstrated a significantly better fit than an alternative model that assumed burdensomeness and lack of belonging were associated with changes in depressive symptoms, which were associated with suicidal ideation. Our findings suggest that the well-established relationship between depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation is associated with changes in beliefs that one is a burden on others and lacks belonging. More generally, these results suggest that it may be fruitful to integrate theories of suicide risk to form a comprehensive model that can inform future research and clinical interventions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Interpersonal theory of suicide
- Structural equation model
- Suicidal ideation