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J Affect Disord. 2008 Oct;110(3):207-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2008.01.008. Epub 2008 Feb 8.

A comparison of specific positive future expectancies and global hopelessness as predictors of suicidal ideation in a prospective study of repeat self-harmers.

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Suicidal Behaviour Research Group, Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA, United Kingdom.



Hopelessness and the lack of positive future expectancies have been related to suicidality. This is the first study to compare the power of positive future expectancies and global hopelessness in the prediction of suicidal ideation. In short, are specific positive expectancies or global hopelessness attitudes more closely related to suicidality?


One hundred and forty four adults hospitalized following a suicidal self-harm episode completed a range of clinical and psychological measures in hospital and were followed up approximately 2.5 months after discharge. All participants reported at least one other self-harm episode in addition to the index episode.


Hierarchical regression analyses confirmed that specific positive future expectancies were better predictors of Time 2 suicidal ideation than global hopelessness. In addition, as hypothesized, negative future thinking was not independently associated with suicidal ideation.


Short-term follow-up.


Specific, idiographic expectancies for positive events (i.e., positive future thinking) are more important predictors of suicidal ideation than global attitudes of hopelessness. Unlike global hopelessness, they provide more options for intervention (e.g., identifying life goals and plans). These findings are particularly noteworthy given the widespread use of measures of global hopelessness. The theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.

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