The suicidal process and self-esteem
Background: It has not been made clear whether self-esteem is associated with the severity of suicidal behavior. Aims: To test the association between responses to a self-esteem inventory and levels of suicidal behavior as conceptualized in the notion of the suicide process. Methods: Questions on the severity of suicidal behavior over the lifespan (death wishes, ideation, plans, and attempts), as well as a self-esteem inventory, were administered to 227 university undergraduates. Results: A negative relationship was found between the level of suicidality and self-esteem. As hypothesized, there were fewer cases in each succeeding level of seriousness of suicidal behavior. However, nearly all cases from any particular level were contained in the cohort of individuals who had displayed suicidal behavior at a less serious level. Conclusions: This suggests a possible progression through each of the stages of suicidal behavior, with very few cases showing a level of suicidal behavior that was not associated with a previous, less serious, form. It was hypothesized that early entry into the suicidal process may be indicated by low self-esteem, thus, allowing for a more timely preventive intervention.