Relatively little research has examined the precise components of hopelessness that increase vulnerability to suicidal thinking. We examined whether certainty about an absence of positive future outcomes (Certainty-AP) would more strongly predict suicide ideation over time than certainty about negative future outcomes (Certainty-N).
Young adults (N = 208), ages 18–34 (M = 19.08, SD = 2.22), with either recent suicide ideation, suicide attempt history, or past-year psychiatric diagnosis were assessed four times over 18 months.
We used multilevel modeling to assess within-participant differences in suicide ideation over time. Both Certainty-AP and Certainty-N predicted later suicide ideation above and beyond generalized hopelessness and depressive symptoms, when examined in separate models. However, Certainty-AP emerged as a stronger predictor of suicide ideation than Certainty-N when examined in the same model.
These findings suggest that certainty about an absence of positive future outcomes may have a more unique prospective relationship to SI than certainty about the presence of negative future outcomes. We discuss clinical and theoretical implications of these findings.