Initial Validation of the Self-Directed Violence Picture System (SDVPS)

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Abstract

A better understanding of factors that differentiate those who only experience suicidal ideation from those who engage in self-directed violence (SDV) is critical for suicide prevention efforts (Klonsky & May, 2014; May & Klonsky, 2016). To identify who is at greatest risk for death by suicide, it is imperative that new innovative assessment tools be created to facilitate behavioral measurement of key constructs associated with increased risk for SDV. The aim of the current study was to develop and validate a set of suicide-specific images, called the Self-Directed Violence Picture System (SDVPS), to help meet this need. A sample of 119 U.S. military veterans provided valence, arousal, and dominance ratings on the SDVPS. These ratings were compared to International Affective Picture System (IAPS) negative, neutral, and positive images. SDVPS images were rated with significantly greater negative valence and elicited decreased feelings of being in control than did IAPS positive (p < .001, p < .001), IAPS negative (p = .03, p = .001), and IAPS neutral (p < .001, p < .001) images. SDVPS images were also rated with significantly greater arousal than were IAPS neutral images (p < .001). Initial validation data support that the SDVPS images functioned as intended. Although continued validation of the SDVPS in other populations is necessary, the SDVPS may become a new tool by which researchers can begin to systematically and reliably examine reactions to suicide-related content using behavioral and/or experimental paradigms.

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