Year: 2022 Source: Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. (2022), 52(3), 356-372. SIEC No: 20221148
Background Theories of suicide suggest that suicidal ideation (SI) results in part from difficulty imagining the future, which itself relies on the ability to remember the past. The present study examines multiple components of episodic future thinking and memory including event richness, which is commonly measured within the cognitive literature but has not previously been assessed with suicidal individuals. Methods Here, we tested the associations between SI and episodic future thinking and episodic memory across two studies (Study 1, n = 25; Study 2, n = 141): the first with a healthy comparison group and the second with a psychiatric comparison group. Results Future event richness yielded large but statistically non-significant deficits in the SI group relative to healthy controls in Study 1 after controling the false discovery rate. The most robust effects for future thinking emerged in the case of perceived duration of future events, such that the SI group (vs. psychiatric comparison) imagined future events as longer-lasting in Study 2. Across both studies, episodic memory was unrelated to SI, and neither episodic future thinking nor memory predicted future SI. Conclusion Episodic future thinking may better distinguish individuals with SI history from psychiatric controls when compared with episodic memory, but that this effect is limited to select components of future thinking.