Hopelessness Predicts Suicide Ideation But Not Attempts: A 10-Year Longitudinal Study
Hopelessness is one of the most commonly cited risk factors for suicidal behaviors. However, several retrospective studies suggest that hopelessness, while strongly correlated with suicide ideation, does not distinguish attempters from ideators without attempts. This study is the first to utilize a prospective design to disambiguate the relationship of hopelessness to ideation versus attempts. Participants were 142 depressed patients followed up over 10 years. Hopelessness and suicidality (ideation and attempts) were assessed using validated questionnaires and structured interviews. Both retrospective and prospective analyses revealed that hopelessness was higher among those reporting any suicidality (ideation or attempts) compared with nonsuicidal individuals. However, hopelessness failed to meaningfully distinguish attempters from ideators in both retrospective and prospective analyses. Taken together with results from previous studies, our findings suggest hopelessness is best conceptualized as a risk factor for suicide ideation but not progression from ideation to attempts.