Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 926–936 | Cite as

Dynamic Changes in a Desire to Escape from Interpersonal Adversity: A Fluid Experimental Assessment of the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide

  • Michael J. KyronEmail author
  • Anna C. Badcock
  • Elliot Baker-Young
  • Werner G. K. Stritzke
  • Andrew C. Page
Original Article


Given suicide risk is dynamic, research needs to identify the factors responsible for these changes. This can be achieved through experimentally manipulating putative causal risk factors. Two studies experimentally manipulated a change in interpersonal risk factors (thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness) to assess the influence on participants’ desire to escape. Study 1 (N = 74) found manipulating simultaneous changes in burdensomeness and belongingness rapidly changed participants’ desire to escape. In Study 2 (N = 54), a change in only thwarted belongingness was still effective in quickly changing participants’ desire to escape from the task, even in the presence of heightened feelings of burdensomeness. The findings speak to the causal role that changes in the levels of interpersonal risk factors may play in influencing a desire to escape from adverse life circumstances.


Interpersonal theory of suicide Belongingness Perceived burdensomeness Experimental psychopathology 



This research was supported in part by an ARC Linkage Grant (LP 150100503) and an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Michael J. Kyron, Anna C. Badcock, Elliot Baker-Young, Werner G. K. Stritzke, and Andrew C. Page declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

Ethical Approval

All procedures were approved and conducted in accordance with the University of Western Australia Human Research Ethics Committee’s ethical guidelines.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Bagge, C. L., Glenn, C. R., & Lee, H. J. (2013). Quantifying the impact of recent negative life events on suicide attempts. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 122(2), 359. Scholar
  2. Bagge, C. L., Littlefield, A. K., & Glenn, C. R. (2017). Trajectories of affective response as warning signs for suicide attempts: An examination of the 48 hours prior to a recent suicide attempt. Clinical Psychological Science, 5(2), 259–271. Scholar
  3. Baumeister, R. F. (1990). Suicide as escape from self. Psychological Review, 97(1), 90–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bryan, C. J., & Rudd, M. D. (2016). The importance of temporal dynamics in the transition from suicidal thought to behavior. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 23(1), 21–25. Scholar
  5. Collins, K. R., Best, I., Stritzke, W. G., & Page, A. C. (2016). Mindfulness and zest for life buffer the negative effects of experimentally-induced perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness: Implications for theories of suicide. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125(5), 704. Scholar
  6. Collins, K. R., Stebbing, C., Stritzke, W. G., & Page, A. C. (2017). A Brief Mindfulness Intervention Attenuates Desire to Escape Following Experimental Induction of the Interpersonal Adversity Implicated in Suicide Risk. Mindfulness.;.Google Scholar
  7. George, S. E., Collins, K. R., Cao, T., Stritzke, W. G., & Page, A. C. (2017). An experimental test of the interpersonal in the interpersonal theory of suicide. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology. Scholar
  8. Hartley, E. L., Stritzke, W. G., Page, A. C., Blades, C. A., & Parentich, K. T. (2018). Neuroticism confers vulnerability in response to experimentally induced feelings of thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness: Implications for suicide risk. Journal of Personality. Scholar
  9. Joiner, T. E. (2005). Why people die by suicide. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Joiner, T. E., Ribeiro, J. D., & Silva, C. (2012). Nonsuicidal self-injury, suicidal behavior, and their co-occurrence as viewed through the lens of the interpersonal theory of suicide. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(5), 342–347. Scholar
  11. Kleiman, E. M., Turner, B. J., Fedor, S., Beale, E. E., Huffman, J. C., & Nock, M. K. (2017). Examination of real-time fluctuations in suicidal ideation and its risk factors: Results from two ecological momentary assessment studies. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 126(6), 726. Scholar
  12. Kyron, M. J., Hooke, G. R., & Page, A. C. (2018). Daily assessment of interpersonal factors to predict suicidal ideation and non-suicidal self-injury in psychiatric inpatients. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86(6), 556. Scholar
  13. O’Connor, R. C. (2011). The integrated motivational-volitional model of suicidal behavior. Crisis, 32(6), 295–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Rudd, M. D. (2006). Fluid vulnerability theory: A cognitive approach to understanding the process of acute and chronic suicide risk.
  15. Turner, B. J., Cobb, R. J., Gratz, K. L., & Chapman, A. L. (2016). The role of interpersonal conflict and perceived social support in nonsuicidal self-injury in daily life. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125(4), 588. Scholar
  16. Van Orden, K. A., Cukrowicz, K. C., Witte, T. K., & Joiner, T. E. Jr. (2012). Thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness: Construct validity and psychometric properties of the interpersonal needs questionnaire. Psychological Assessment, 24(1), 197. Scholar
  17. Van Orden, K. A., Witte, T. K., Cukrowicz, K. C., Braithwaite, S. R., Selby, E. A., & Joiner, T. E. Jr. (2010). The interpersonal theory of suicide. Psychological Review, 117(2), 575. Scholar
  18. Van Orden, K. A., Witte, T. K., Gordon, K. H., Bender, T. W., & Joiner, T. E. Jr. (2008). Suicidal desire and the capability for suicide: Tests of the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior among adults. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(1), 72. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Kyron
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anna C. Badcock
    • 1
  • Elliot Baker-Young
    • 1
  • Werner G. K. Stritzke
    • 1
  • Andrew C. Page
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Psychological ScienceUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

Personalised recommendations