Preliminary results from an examination of episodic planning in suicidal behavior
Anestis, M.D., Pennings, S.M., & Williams, T.J.
Background: Prior research has reported that a substantial portion of suicidal behavior occurs impulsively. These studies, however, have been unable to assess for episodic planning. Aims: To provide preliminary support for the plausibility and utility of assessing episodic, nonlinear planning in suicidal behavior. Method: Fifty undergraduates with a prior history of suicidal behavior responded to a series of questions assessing level of attempt, method, and level of planning during their most recent self-reported suicide attempt. Results: Level of intent was positively associated with planning, and the modal individual whose most recent attempt involved clear intent to die endorsed planning for at least 1 year. Conclusion: These preliminary data support the plausibility and potential utility of assessing episodic planning and indicate that suicide attempts involving a clear intent to die typically require extensive levels of planning and rarely (if ever) emerge without forethought.