An empirical investigation of the distinction between passive and active ideation: Understanding the latent structure of suicidal thought content
Wastler, H.M., Khazem, L.R., Ammendola E., Baker, J.C., Bauder, C.R., Tabares, J., ... & Bryan, C.J.
Although the distinction between passive and active suicidal ideation is well accepted by suicide researchers and clinicians, there has been very little empirical investigation into this distinction. The current study addressed this gap by examining the latent structure of suicidal ideation based on thought content.
Participants from two distinct samples of U.S. adults (n1 = 6200; n2 = 10,625) completed a self-report assessment of eight commonly experienced suicidal thoughts using the Self-Injurious Thoughts and Behaviors Interview-Revised. Exploratory structural equation modeling was used to examine the latent structure of suicidal thoughts.
The two-factor model demonstrated significantly better fit than the one-factor solution across both samples. Thoughts typically classified as passive ideation strongly loaded onto one factor, whereas thoughts typically classified as active ideation loaded onto the second factor. The two factors were highly correlated and some suicidal thoughts exhibited meaningful cross-loading.
Our results suggest that passive and active ideation are two distinct constructs. Although they often co-occur, passive and active ideation are not nested constructs and should not be viewed as gradients of one underlying construct. Our findings suggest that at a minimum both passive and active ideation should be included in all suicide risk assessments and screenings.