Year: 2023 Source: Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. (2023), 53(2), 188-197. SIEC No: 20230844
Introduction The inclusion of suicide gestures in modern nomenclatures for self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITB) is contentious due to their history of pejorative connotations and inconsistent operationalization and measurement. Here we sought to investigate the extent to which participants who endorse this behavior on a standardized SITB measure: (1) describe their behavior in a way that is consistent with contemporary definitions for suicide gestures; (2) accurately classify their behavior when presented with multiple SITB response options; and (3) consistently report their level of intent to die across survey items. Methods Participants were 83 adults from a community-based sample who endorsed lifetime suicide gesture(s) in an online survey containing self-report measures assessing their prior SITB engagement, followed by open-ended questions eliciting narrative descriptions of their behaviors. Results Approximately 13% of participants who endorsed lifetime suicide gestures provided narrative descriptions that met criteria for the behavior, and around one-third consistently reported zero intent to die in their explicit ratings. Additionally, some participants reported non-zero intent to die from behaviors without direct potential for physical injury. Conclusions Overall, this study highlights substantial issues with the validity of current approaches to measuring suicide gestures. Implications for the classification of suicide gestures in clinical and research settings are discussed.