The ABC’s of suicide risk assessment: Applying a tripartite approach to individual evaluations.
Harris, K., et al.
There is considerable need for accurate suicide risk assessment for clinical, screening, and research purposes. This study applied the tripartite affect-behavior-cognition theory, the suicidal barometer model, classical test theory, and item response theory (IRT), to develop a brief self-report measure of suicide risk that is theoretically-grounded, reliable and valid. An initial survey (n = 359) employed an iterative process to an item pool, resulting in the six-item Suicidal Affect-Behavior-Cognition Scale (SABCS). Three additional studies tested the SABCS and a highly endorsed comparison measure. Studies included two online surveys (Ns = 1007, and 713), and one prospective clinical survey (n = 72; Time 2, n = 54). Factor analyses demonstrated SABCS construct validity through unidimensionality. Internal reliability was high ( = .86-.93, split-half = .90-.94)). The scale was predictive of future suicidal behaviors and suicidality (r = .68, .73, respectively), showed convergent validity, and the SABCS-4 demonstrated clinically relevant sensitivity to change. IRT analyses revealed the SABCS captured more information than the comparison measure, and better defined participants at low, moderate, and high risk. The SABCS is the first suicide risk measure to demonstrate no differential item functioning by sex, age, or ethnicity. In all comparisons, the SABCS showed incremental improvements over a highly endorsed scale through stronger predictive ability, reliability, and other properties. The SABCS is in the public domain, with this publication, and is suitable for clinical evaluations, public screening, and research.