Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Psychology: Clinical-Counseling Psychology
Suicide is considered a public health crisis in the United States due to the large number of individuals attempting and completing suicide each year. Oftentimes, the first line of defense or “gatekeepers” against suicide is non-mental health professionals. The body of literature on suicide risk assessment has not explored the efficacy of non-mental health professionals’ ability to accurately recognize various levels of suicide risk. This study focused on examining whether non-mental health professionals ability to accurately recognize suicide risk in others is influenced by their level of suicide literacy (knowledge regarding the various aspects of suicide). This study also examined whether accuracy in assessment of suicide risk varies based on the demographic factors of sexual orientation and gender identity. Accuracy determining suicide risk was gauged using four expertly validated vignettes that each demonstrated a specific level of suicide risk (high, moderate, low, or none). Suicide literacy was gauged using the Literacy of Suicide Scale, which is a validated 26-item scale that asks participants to answer “true”, “false”, or “I don’t know” to an item regarding some aspect of suicide. This study required all 289 participants to complete the vignettes and the Literacy of Suicide Scale. It was hypothesized that participants with increased levels of suicide literacy would be more accurate at recognizing suicide risk and participants belonging to the LGBTQ community would be more accurate at recognizing suicide risk than non-LGBTQ participants. Results of this study demonstrated that there was a significant relationship between participants ability to accurately recognize suicide risk and increased levels of suicide literacy with regards to the “high risk” vignette but not with the other vignettes. The results also demonstrated that there was no significant different LGBTQ participants and non-LGBTQ participants ability to accurately recognize suicide risk. Due to the scant research in this area, further research is required but the findings of this study could inform future research and eventually, suicide prevention efforts to help combat this public health crisis.
Ibrahim, Salman, "Suicide Literacy and Laypersons’ Ability to Accurately Recognize Suicide Warning Signs and Risk Factors" (2019). Theses and Dissertations. 1153.