Year: 2017 Source: Archives of Suicide Research. (2017). 21(3): 438-454. doi: 10.1080/13811118.2016. SIEC No: 20170425

The effect of perceived criticism from others is one potentially important risk factor for suicide that has received scant attention, despite decades of research on the role of criticism in the treatment and course of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and mood disorders. This study analyzed the effect of perceived criticism’s association with suicidal ideation and attempts as well as its connection with the suicide related constructs thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness as described in the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide. Fifty participants (66% female, MAge = 18.7), 18 of whom had previously made one or more suicide attempts, completed a battery of self-report assessments as well as two in-person, structured clinical interviews. Analyses demonstrated that perceived parental criticism is a significant indicator of suicide ideation (β = .297, p = .003) and attempts (β = .373, p < .001) and that perceived criticism from close friends is a significant indicator of suicide attempts (β = .297, p = .006). Perceived criticism has a strong indirect effect on suicide ideation and attempts through its effect on thwarted belongingness, but not perceived burdensomeness, while controlling for mental illnesses. Some limitations of this study include the cross-sectional design and the use of a relatively small, restricted age sample. Treatment designed to mitigate perceived criticism and thwarted belongingness may be an important component in combatting suicidal ideation and attempts, particularly among young adults.