Publication Date

Summer 2017

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Amy Brausch (Director), Aaron Wichman, and Stephen O’Connor

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Survivors of suicide attempts are at increased risk for future suicide, and there are few empirically validated treatments designed to reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviors among this population. The Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide proposed that reducing suicidal individuals’ feelings of burdensomeness on others and disconnectedness from others will decrease the desire for suicide. Disclosing one’s history of suicidal behavior to a trusted confidant has been found to have a positive impact on depression symptoms, so the present study sought to evaluate the benefits of disclosing on measures of social support and proximal suicide risk described by the Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide. Data were collected from 99 undergraduate students who reported at least one lifetime suicide attempt. Results indicated that disclosing one’s history of suicide attempt to one or two confidants had a positive indirect effect on depression, Perceived Burdensomeness, and Thwarted Belongingness via a pathway mediated by peer social support. However, disclosing to 3 individuals attenuated these positive effects. Results support existing treatments that incorporate disclosure of suicide attempt history or active suicidal ideation as a suicide prevention technique and recommend the use of disclosure as a way to facilitate increased social connectedness, thereby reducing desire for suicide.


Psychology | Social Psychology