Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Amy Brausch (Director), Carl Myers, Aaron Wichman

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The purpose of this investigation was to examine the role of suicide-related mental imagery in suicidal behavior. It was hypothesized that engagement (frequency, emotional impact, vividness, realism) with suicidal imagery would be related to suicidality, with greater engagement with imagery associated with more suicidal behaviors. Acquired capability for suicide was expected to be a mediator of this relationship. These hypotheses were tested by surveying 237 undergraduate university students (59% female; mean age = 20). Students completed a packet of self-report measures: The Modified Suicidal Cognitions Interview, The Acquired Capability for Suicide Scale, and the Self-Harm Behavior Questionnaire. Results suggested that engagement with suicide-related imagery was positively correlated with suicidality. The correlational analyses showed that an additional mediational analysis was unwarranted. The implications of these findings are that understanding suicide-related mental imagery could play an important role in clinical risk assessment and treatment for suicidality, and that further research is needed to clarify the mechanisms underlying the relationship between suicide-related mental imagery and suicidal behavior.


Applied Behavior Analysis | Clinical Psychology | Cognitive Psychology | Health Psychology | Psychology