Keywords

Suicide, suicidal behavior, the interpersonal theory of suicide

Abstract

Suicidal behavior is a major problem worldwide and at the same time has received relatively little empirical attention. This relative lack of empirical attention may be due in part to a relative absence of theory development regarding suicidal behavior. The current paper presents the Interpersonal Theory of Suicidal Behavior. We propose that the most dangerous form of suicidal desire is caused by the simultaneous presence of two interpersonal constructs—thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness (and hopelessness about these states)—and further, that the capability to engage in suicidal behavior is separate from the desire to engage in suicidal behavior. According to the theory, the capability for suicidal behavior emerges, via habituation and opponent processes, in response to repeated exposure to physically painful and/or fearinducing experiences. In the current paper, the theory’s hypotheses are more precisely delineated than in previous presentations (Joiner, 2005), with the aim of inviting scientific inquiry and potential falsification of the theory’s hypotheses.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2011

Language

English

College

Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Department

Psychology

Included in

Psychology Commons

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