Year: 2023 Source: Archives of Suicide Research. (2023). 27(3), 984-1001. DOI: 10.1080/13811118.2022.2096521 SIEC No: 20231679

Introduction: Several protective factors for mitigating suicidal ideation (SI) such as positive affect, reasons for living, purpose in life, meaning in life, gratitude, grit, optimism, social support, and hope have been identified and received empirical support. However, few studies have examined the interrelationships of these protective factors and the identification of protective factors most closely linked to lower levels of SI may be useful for both theory-building initiatives and improvement of suicide-specific interventions. Network analysis offers an approach for testing the relation among these constructs, SI, and suicide risk factors.

Methods: A sample N = 557 undergraduate students oversampled for lifetime SI completed a cross-sectional, online survey. The data was used to estimate an undirected, cross-sectional network of the aforementioned protective factors.

Results: The resulting inferred network implicates strong negative influence of suicide cognitions, but not recent SI, and the strong positive influence of presence of meaning in life, trait hope, and low negative affect.

Conclusions: Implications for dimensionality of SI versus suicide cognitions, targeting presence of meaning in life, trait hope, and negative affect in treatment, and cross-cultural variations in reasons for living are discussed. The study is limited by the cross-sectional and convenience sampling methodology.

Highlights: Protective factors may have less direct influence on suicidal ideation. Suicide cognitions and the suicidal mode may be of phenomenological importance. Presence of meaning and trait hope may be primary targets for suicide interventions.