Warning Signs for Imminent Risk of Suicidal Behavior: A Preliminary Investigation



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Approximately one million individuals worldwide died from suicide in 2000 and estimates suggest that ten to twenty times more individuals attempted suicide (World Health Organization, 2005). The statistics for suicide rates in the United States are just as alarming for "each year in the United States approximately 30,000 lives are lost to suicide (CDC, 1999); yet this disturbing loss of American lives is preventable" (DeMartino et al., 2003). As such, this preliminary study aims to provide an initial investigation into the reliability and validity of the AAS Suicide Warning Signs to identify individuals at imminent risk for suicidal behavior. Although the results indicate a statistically significant correlation between one's suicidal risk and one's endorsement of the Warning Signs, possible confounding variables (such as past-week depression level) might play a role in explaining part of this correlation. Additionally, because statistical analyses suggest that one's endorsement of the Suicide Warning Signs as well as one's past-week depression level both significantly predict group status, there appears to be an interaction between depression and endorsement of the Warning Signs. In conclusion, although it is suggested that risk status and Warning Signs are correlated, this study barely tips the iceberg when it comes to research involving the identification of imminent risk. More research is essential in order to develop a better understanding of possible markers of imminent suicidal risk.