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New Method to Measure Suicide Motivations

New Method to Measure Suicide MotivationExperts say a new study on the root cause of suicide will provide valuable insights to advance suicide prevention, improve treatments, and reduce the likelihood of further attempts.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia investigated why people attempt suicide. The findings were used to develop the first scientifically tested measure for evaluating the motivations for suicide.

Published in the official journal of the American Association of Suicidology, the work gives doctors and researchers important new resources.

“Knowing why someone attempted suicide is crucial — it tells us how to best help them recover,” says Prof. David Klonsky, UBC Department of Psychology.

“This new tool will help us to move beyond the current ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to suicide prevention, which is essential. Different motivations require different treatments and interventions.”

The study, based on 120 participants who recently attempted suicide, suggests many motivations believed to play important roles in suicide are relatively uncommon.

For example, suicide attempts were rarely the result of impulsivity, a cry for help, or an effort to solve a financial or practical problem.

Of all motivations for suicide the two found to be universal in all participants were hopelessness and overwhelming emotional pain.

Researchers also discovered that suicide attempts influenced by social factors — such as efforts to elicit help or influence others – generally exhibited a less pronounced intent to die, and were carried out with a greater chance of rescue.

In contrast, suicide attempts motivated by internal factors — such as hopelessness and unbearable pain — were performed with the greatest desire to die.

“It may be surprising to some, but focusing on motivations is a new approach in the field of suicide research — and urgently needed,” says Klonsky.

“Until now, the focus has been largely on the types of people attempting suicide — their demographics, their genetics — without actually exploring the motivations. Ours is the first work to do this in a systematic way.”

Source: University of British Columbia

New Method to Measure Suicide Motivations

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). New Method to Measure Suicide Motivations. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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