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

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 01:57 authored by Harris, K, Silvana BettiolSilvana Bettiol

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.


Publication title

International Journal of Social Psychiatry








Tasmanian School of Medicine


Sage Publications Ltd

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© The Author(s) 2016

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Mental health services

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