Race, Offense Type, and Suicide Ideation: Tests of the Interpersonal-Psychological Theory in Juvenile Offenders

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Abstract

This study evaluated the synergy hypothesis of the Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide (IPTS), which argues thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness are positively interactive in their association with suicide ideation, in a group of juvenile offenders. It also examined whether this prediction is differentially applicable across race/ethnicity or offense type. Participants included 590 adjudicated and confined male juveniles. Regression was used to test the association between suicide ideation and thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness, and their interaction term. Subsequent analyses included tests of group interactions related to race/ethnicity and offense type. No interaction between thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness was observed, despite adequate power. No significant group interactions were observed for race/ethnicity or offense type. However, results did show significant linear relationships between thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness, and ideation, highlighting their potential utility as intervention targets in this at-risk population. Thus, although the current results are the first to show the basic IPTS risk factors generalize across race/ethnicity and offense type, they also failed to support that those factors were interactive, a primary IPTS claim. The absence of an interaction between thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness suggests their role in suicide ideation for juvenile offenders may be more parsimonious than the IPTS proposes.

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