Exploring the demographic and mental health predictors of the constructs of the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behaviour.
Scher, Alexa J.
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Suicidal behaviour is an increasingly serious public health concern across the world. There is limited research on suicidal behaviour in South Africa, particularly around theoretical models, which is required to improve our understanding of suicidal behaviour. Joiner’s (2005) Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicidal Behaviour (IPTS) is a comprehensive theory that focuses on intra- and interpersonal influences in the development of suicidal behaviour whilst acknowledging neurobiological correlates. The aim of this study was to explore the demographic and mental health predictors of the constructs and outcomes of the IPTS. Using a purposive sampling method, a sample of 239 psychiatric outpatients was recruited into the study. Standard multiple linear regression and binary logistic regression analyses were performed to establish which demographic variables and mental illnesses were predictors of the constructs and outcomes of the theory. The results indicated that thwarted belongingness and interpersonal hopelessness were not significantly associated with demographic variables, whilst being a female, being unemployed and having a lower level of education were significantly associated with perceived burdensomeness, and younger age, being male and being employed were significantly associated with acquired capability for suicide. Being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder and substance use disorder were significantly associated with lower levels of TB, whilst all of the mental illnesses (except impulse control disorder) were significantly associated with PB. None of the mental illnesses were significantly associated with IH or AC for suicide. Low levels of education were significantly associated with all three outcomes, whilst being unemployed was significantly associated with death ideation, being Black or Coloured was significantly associated with suicidal ideation and being of a younger age was significantly associated with suicide risk. Lastly, borderline personality disorder and substance use disorder were significantly associated with all three outcomes, whilst bipolar mood disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia and bereavement were also significantly associated with death ideation and bipolar mood disorder was also significantly associated with suicide risk. These findings further our understanding of the role that demographic variables and mental disorders play in the development of suicidal behaviour in the unique South African context, with the study having the potential to inform both the assessment of suicide risk and the development of prevention and intervention initiatives to minimise suicide risk in practice.