Perceived Discrimination is Associated with Capability for Suicide
Brooks, Jasmin Roelle
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The Interpersonal Theory of Suicide proposes two necessary components for an individual to engage in suicidal behavior: a desire for suicide as well as the capability to attempt suicide. Developing the capability to enact lethal self-injury and overcoming one’s natural instinct of self-preservation is thought to occur as a result of habituation to the fear and pain that would arise from self-injury. Current research suggests this process occurs through repeated exposure to painful and provocative events, including previous suicidal behaviors and exposure to extreme violence or trauma. However, investigations of suicide capability have yet to examine unique painful and provocative event that occurs for marginalized persons. The purpose of the current study is to examine the association for perceived experiences of discrimination and suicide capability for African American adults. Participants are 173 African American adults (67.6% female; Mage = 23.18, SD = 5.74) and 272 European American adults (60.7% female; Mage = 22.80, SD = 5.90). Each participant completed a questionnaire battery consisting of measures of perceived discrimination, depression, suicide ideation, and painful and provocative events. Regression analyses revealed for African Americans perceived discrimination was significantly associated with an increased capability for suicide after accounting for age, gender, level of depressive symptomatology, suicide ideation, and non-discriminatory painful and provocative events experienced ( = .226, t = 3.154, p = .002). As this represents the first study to demonstrate a link between perceived discrimination and capability for suicide, these findings further illustrate the need for theoretically informed models that address the needs of racial/ethnic minority persons.