Attentional bias and the Suicide Status Form: Behavioral perseveration of written responses
Hamedi, A., Colborn, V.A., Bell, M., Chalker, S.A., & Jobes, D.A.
Given the vast public health problem of suicide, the need for more effective assessment of suicidal risk is clear. The major approaches applied to this challenge include various direct approaches (e.g., suicide-focused interviews) and indirect approaches (e.g., implicit methodologies or “occult” assessments) that tend to assess an attentional bias for suicidal risk, the latter of which the present investigation sought to study. Using the Suicide Status Form (SSF)—the central multi-purpose tool that is used within a collaborative assessment process with suicidal patients who are engaged in the “Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality” (CAMS; Jobes, 2016)—we aimed to investigate the influence of perseverative, hand-written content responses pertaining to potential suicidal risk. Specifically, we explored whether repeating certain topic content might reflect a perseverative response style; we thus compared written content results of first session SSFs taken from a sample of suicidal U.S. Army Soldiers (Study 1) and a sample of suicidal college students (Study 2). Across the two studies, patients who repeated the same content (“1-Topic Repeaters”) had significantly higher ratings related to suicidal ideation in comparison to those with more heterogeneous response styles. This replicated finding perhaps reveals a form of behavioral perseveration that is potentially related to increased suicidal risk with possible implications for successful treatment.