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Cognitive Reactivity, Suicidal Ideation and Future Fluency: Preliminary Investigation of a Differential Activation Theory of Hopelessness/Suicidality

Abstract

The authors investigated whether the re-emergence of hopeless/suicidal cognitions over time can be explained within a differential activation framework. Studies 1 (N = 146) and 2 (N = 136) showed that individuals who reported suicidal ideation when depressed in the past had higher scores on the hopelessness/suicidality subscale of a measure assessing cognitive reactivity to low mood, the LEIDS. Study 3 (N = 32) demonstrated that self-reports on this subscale predicted changes in generativity for positive future events, an experimental measure of processes underlying hopelessness/suicidality, following sad mood induction. The results provide preliminary evidence that history of suicidal ideation is related to a specific cognitive response pattern, which may be reactivated by mild fluctuations in mood.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank Danielle Duggan, Melanie Fennell, Silvia Garnsey and Wendy Swift for help with this research. This research was supported by the Wellcome Trust GR067797

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Williams, J.M.G., Van der Does, A.J.W., Barnhofer, T. et al. Cognitive Reactivity, Suicidal Ideation and Future Fluency: Preliminary Investigation of a Differential Activation Theory of Hopelessness/Suicidality. Cogn Ther Res 32, 83–104 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-006-9105-y

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Keywords

  • Depression
  • Suicide
  • Recurrence
  • Cognitive reactivity
  • Rumination
  • Hopelessness
  • Future thinking
  • Vulnerability
  • Differential activation theory