An exploration of the relationships amongst the constructs of the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behaviour in an outpatient clinical population sample in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Van Wyk, Nicole.
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Suicidal behaviour presents a significant global concern. Despite several global studies on suicide; there remains a lack of a comprehensive theory of suicidal behaviour. Several theories have been proposed over the years in an effort to conceptualize suicidal behaviour; however to date, no theory has been able to accurately account for the various factors involved in suicidal behaviour. Joiner (2005) proposed a theory of suicidal behaviour – the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behaviour – where he builds upon the strengths of previous theories, as well as the literature on suicide risk factors, to provide, arguably, the most accurate theoretical account of suicidal behaviour to date. According to Joiner’s (2005) interpersonal-psychological theory of suicide, an individual will die by suicide because: i) they can, and ii) they want to. The current study explored the relationships amongst the constructs of Joiner’s (2005) interpersonal-psychological theory in an outpatient clinical population, with the aim of adding to the body of knowledge on suicide in South Africa, particularly with regards to theoretical understanding. The study enrolled 239 participants receiving psychological services at state hospitals, an outpatient clinic, or private facility. The findings of the current study indicated that the most significant predictors of suicide desire were: symptoms of depression, marital status, and the simultaneous presence of thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness. This finding was expected given the theory’s claim that a sense of interpersonal distress is likely to result in suicidal desire, as well as the literature on suicide indicating, that the presence of psychopathology, particularly depression, is a risk factor for suicide. In the current study, acquired capability for suicide was not found to be a significant predictor of suicide risk, which was expected. The constructs of Joiner’s (2005) interpersonal-psychological theory have yielded interesting findings in studies conducted abroad thus far. Further research using Joiner’s (2005) interpersonal-psychological theory in South Africa would be beneficial, particularly amongst a sample with current / a history of suicide desire.