Suicide is a complex phenomenon, with numerous factors contributing to an individual’s risk of suicide. The aim of the present study was to explore how risk and protective factors for suicide interact with one another in a network sense and to determine which factors were most central to a network of these factors.
Using an online survey, cross-sectional data were collected from a sample of 515 individuals who lived in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Participants were recruited through either social media or Prolific Academic. A network of 18 risk and protective factors for suicide was estimated using network analysis. Analyses were preregistered on the Open Science Framework.
Factors that had the highest strength centrality were feeling depressed, feeling hopeless, perceived burdensomeness, self-esteem, and social support. Factors that were directly associated with suicidal ideation included feeling depressed, perceived burdensomeness, feeling hopeless, self-esteem, resilience, access to mental health services and a positive attitude toward these services.
This research demonstrates the importance of examining protective factors as well as risk factors when estimating an individual’s suicide risk. The results suggest that interventions targeting depression may be particularly beneficial in reducing suicide risk, but further longitudinal research is required.