Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Does asking about suicide and related behaviours induce suicidal ideation? What is the evidence?

  • T. Dazzi (a1), R. Gribble (a2), S. Wessely (a2) and N. T. Fear (a2)
Abstract

There is a commonly held perception in psychology that enquiring about suicidality, either in research or clinical settings, can increase suicidal tendencies. While the potential vulnerability of participants involved in psychological research must be addressed, apprehensions about conducting studies of suicidality create a Catch-22 situation for researchers. Ethics committees require evidence that proposed studies will not cause distress or suicidal ideation, yet a lack of published research can mean allaying these fears is difficult. Concerns also exist in psychiatric settings where risk assessments are important for ensuring patient safety. But are these concerns based on evidence? We conducted a review of the published literature examining whether enquiring about suicide induces suicidal ideation in adults and adolescents, and general and at-risk populations. None found a statistically significant increase in suicidal ideation among participants asked about suicidal thoughts. Our findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce, rather than increase suicidal ideation, and may lead to improvements in mental health in treatment-seeking populations. Recurring ethical concerns about asking about suicidality could be relaxed to encourage and improve research into suicidal ideation and related behaviours without negatively affecting the well-being of participants.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Does asking about suicide and related behaviours induce suicidal ideation? What is the evidence?
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Does asking about suicide and related behaviours induce suicidal ideation? What is the evidence?
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Does asking about suicide and related behaviours induce suicidal ideation? What is the evidence?
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: N. T. Fear, KCMHR, Weston Education Centre, 10 Cutcombe Road, King's College London, London SE5 9RJ, UK. (Email: nicola.t.fear@kcl.ac.uk)
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

RH Aseltine , A James , EA Schilling , J Glanovsky (2007). Evaluating the SOS suicide prevention program: a replication and extension. BMC Public Health 7, 161.

L Biddle , J Cooper , A Owen-Smith , E Klineberg , O Bennewith , K Hawton , N Kapur , J Donovan , D Gunnel (2013). Qualitative interviewing with vulnerable populations: Individuals’ experiences of participating in suicide and self-harm based research. Journal of Affective Disorders 145, 356362.

M Cedereke , K Monti , A Ojehagen (2002). Telephone contact with patients in the year after a suicide attempt: does it affect treatment attendance and outcome? A randomised controlled study. European Psychiatry 17, 8291.

K Dyregrov (2004). Bereaved parents' experience of research participation. Social Science & Medicine 58, 391400.

MS Gould , FA Marrocco , M Kleinman , JG Thomas , K Mostkoff , J Cote , M Davies (2005). Evaluating iatrogenic risk of youth suicide screening programs: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association 293, 16351643.

MH Groot , JD Keijser , J Neeleman (2006). Grief shortly after suicide and natural death: a comparative study among spouses and first-degree relatives. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behaviour 36, 418431.

R King , B Nurcombe , L Bickman , L Hides , W Reid (2003). Telephone counselling for adolescent suicide prevention: changes in suicidality and mental state from beginning to end of a counselling session. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behaviour 33, 400411.

R Lakeman , M Fitzgerald (2009). The ethics of suicide research. Crisis 30, 1319.

M Lang , T Uttaro , E Caine , S Carpinello , C Felton (2010). Implementing routine suicide risk screening for psychiatric outpatients with serious mental disorders: II. Quantitative results. Archives of Suicide Research 13, 169177.

CW Mathias , R Michael Furr , AH Sheftall , N Hill-Kapturczak , P Crum , DM Dougherty (2012). What's the harm in asking about suicidal ideation? Suicide & Life-Threatening Behaviour 42, 341–151.

KJ Petrie , K Faasse , TA Notman , R O'Carroll (2013). How distressing is it to participate in medical research? A calibration study using an everyday events questionnaire. JRSM Short Reports 4, 17.

SK Reynolds , N Lindenboim , KA Comtois , A Murray , MM Linehan (2006). Risky assessments: participant suicidality and distress associated with research assessments in a treatment study of suicidal behavior. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviour 36, 1934.

G Stoppe , H Sandholzer , C Huppertz , H Duwe , J Staedt (1999). Family physicians and the risk of suicide in the depressed elderly. Journal of Affective Disorders 54, 193198.

G Vaiva , G Vaiva , F Ducrocq , P Meyer , D Mathieu , A Philippe , C Libersa , M Goudemand (2006). Effect of telephone contact on further suicide attempts in patients discharged from an emergency department: randomised controlled study. British Medical Journal 332, 12411245.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 103
Total number of PDF views: 349 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 675 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 26th March 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.