Objective: Disturbances in interpersonal functioning are prevalent in individuals with suicidality. Foundational for interpersonal functioning is theory of mind (ToM), a social-cognitive ability that allows individuals to understand the thoughts and feelings of others. Recent work has begun to investigate ToM performance in individuals with suicidality, though no review has quantitatively aggregated findings from these varied studies. The current study investigated the relations between ToM and suicidality with meta-analysis.
Method: We identified and meta-analyzed 15 studies that presented data for 2,895 participants (617 of whom had reported at least one suicide attempt).
Results: Results indicated a significant, negative relation between ToM and suicidality with a medium overall effect size (g = -.475). Moderator analyses revealed that this effect was consistent across age, sex, ToM content, and suicidal outcome.
Conclusion: Deficits in ToM associated with suicidality hold promise for risk-identification, treatment, and prevention work.HighlightsTheory of mind (ToM) abilities are critical for effective interpersonal functioning.Meta-analytics results indicate that ToM deficits are associated with suicidality.Identifying such suicidality-related ToM deficits may inform risk-identification, treatment, and prevention work.