Date of Conferral

2018

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Rodney Ford

Abstract

Researchers have investigated the role of hope as a protective factor against suicide. Of the 3 factors posited by Joiner's interpersonal theory of suicide (IPTS) to be necessary before suicide can occur, increased hope has been shown to reduce 2 (thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness), but, counterintuitively, to increase the 3rd (acquired capability for suicide). A fuller understanding of this phenomenon may lie with Bernardo's locus-of-hope constructâ??pursuant to which hope may lie not only in one's own plans and capabilities (internal locus-of-hope) but in those of others (external locus-of-hope)â??but to date no study has researched the relationship between external locus-of-hope and acquired capability for suicide. The purpose of this quantitative study was to contribute to the understanding of hope and suicidality by examining the following research question: Is there a relationship between external locus-of-hope and acquired capability for suicide? The study used existing objective instruments to measure levels of hope and acquired capability for suicide. Data from a sample recruited online (N = 193) was analyzed using a 3-step hierarchical regression procedure designed to isolate the effects of external locus-of-hope on acquired capability for suicide. Results confirmed that internal locus-of-hope raises acquired capability for suicide and demonstrated that external locus-of-hope has the opposite effect: it is associated with lowered acquired capability for suicide. It follows that interventions designed to raise one's level of externally located hope have the potential to deter suicidal individuals from actualizing their plans. This study thus has implications for positive social change by contributing to the saving of lives.

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