Category: Suicide and Self-Injury


Novel Measures of Implicit Suicide Risk in Psychiatric Inpatients

Saturday, November 18
12:15 PM - 1:45 PM
Location: Aqua Salon A & B, Level 3, Aqua Level

Keywords: Suicide
Presentation Type: Symposium

Suicide is a serious public health concern, with one suicide occurring approximately every twelve minutes in the U.S. Despite advances in our understanding of the correlates and predictors of suicidal behavior, our ability to predict suicide is scarcely better than chance. Given our limitations in predicting suicidal behavior, an important precondition to intervening for those at highest risk or with a past history of suicide, there is a clear need for novel measures and methods to predict suicide. One promising means through which we can improve prediction is through the development of measures of implicit, or non-conscious, cognitions. While prior measures such as the Implicit Associations Task (IAT) or the Suicide Stroop exist, there is a need to 1) validate these measures in high-risk psychiatric populations and 2) identify additional, potentially more effective, implicit measures of suicide risk.

We report here preliminary evidence from the Behavioral and Ecological Suicide Tracking (BEST) study, developed to examine novel measures of implicit suicide risk [Suicide Dot Probe and Word-Sentence Association Paradigm (WSAP)], and to compare these novel measures to established implicit measures (i.e. IAT & Suicide Stroop). BEST (current n = 202; target N = 400) includes a comprehensive baseline assessment of standard suicide measures and interviews and an intensive laboratory-based behavioral paradigm (e.g. IAT, Stroop, WSAP, Dot Probe) that is repeated at a 6-month follow-up. The IAT at baseline correlated with our novel WSAP for suicide content (r = .34, p < .001) and dysphoric content (r = .24, p = .002). Additionally, WSAP suicide items predict intensity of C-SSRS-assessed suicidal ideation at the 6-month follow-up (r = .39, p = .005), while WSAP dysphoric items show negative correlations with suicidal ideation and behavior (all rs = -.26 – -.31, p < .05). Analysis and psychometric refinement of both our WSAP and Dot-Probe task are ongoing, and we will report how response changes on our novel tasks from baseline to follow-up predict subsequent suicidal ideation and behavior. Clinical implications will also be discussed. 

Michael F. Armey

Assistant Professor
Brown University & Butler Hospital


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Novel Measures of Implicit Suicide Risk in Psychiatric Inpatients

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