Study of Suicide Motivations to Advance Prevention

From UBC News: A University of British Columbia study sheds important new light on why people attempt suicide and provides the first scientifically tested measure for evaluating the motivations for suicide.

Published in the official journal of the American Association of Suicidology, the work gives doctors and researchers important new resources to advance suicide prevention, improve treatments, and reduce the likelihood of further attempts.

The study finds that suicide attempts influenced by social factors – such as efforts to elicit help or influence others – generally exhibited a less pronounced intnet to die, and were carried out with a greater chance of rescue. In contrast, suicide attempts motivated by internal factors – such as hopelessness and unbearable pain – were preformed with the greatest desire to die.

Prof. David Klonsky

“It may be surprising to some, but focsing on motivations is a new approach in the field of sucide research – and urgently needed, says Prof. David Klonsky”. “Until now, the focus has been largely on the types of people attempting suicide, their demographics, their genetics, without actually exploring the motivations. Ours is the first work to do this in a systematic and comprenhensive way.

The study’s 120 participants were outpatients and undergraduate students who had attempted suicide with “intnet to die” within the past three years.

Lead author Alexis May, UBC Psychology

For the study, participants completed a questionaire related to 10 different motivations for attempted suicide. The resulting questionaire is now available for clinical use. The Inventory of Motivations for Suicide Attempts (IMSA) is the most accurate and first scientifically tested tool for evaluating a person’s motivation for suicide.

Despite massive prevention efforts, suciide rates have increased globally over the past 50 years, with almost one million people taking their lives, annually.

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