A Multidimensional Theory of Suicide: A Psychological Autopsy Corroborative Study

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Abstract

Background: Theory is the foundation of science; this is true in suicidology. Over decades of studies of suicide notes, Leenaars developed a multidimensional model of suicide, with international (crosscultural) studies and independent verification. Aim: To corroborate Leenaars's theory with a psychological autopsy (PA) study, examining age and sex of the decedent, and survivor's relationship to deceased. Method: A PA study in Norway, with 120 survivors/informants was undertaken. Leenaars' theoretical–conceptual (protocol) analysis was undertaken of the survivors' narratives and in-depth interviews combined. Results: Substantial interjudge reliability was noted (κ = .632). Overall, there was considerable confirmatory evidence of Leenaars's intrapsychic and interpersonal factors in suicide survivors' narratives. Differences were found in the age of the decedent, but not in sex, nor in the survivor's closeness of the relationship. Older deceased people were perceived to exhibit more heightened unbearable intrapsychic pain, associated with the suicide. Conclusion: Leenaars's theory has corroborative verification, through the decedents' suicide notes and the survivors' narratives. However, the multidimensional model needs further testing to develop a better evidence-based way of understanding suicide.

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