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Behav Res Ther. 2011 Apr;49(4):294-8. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2011.01.010. Epub 2011 Feb 3.

Evidence for an emotion-cognition interaction in the statistical prediction of suicide attempts.

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Department of Psychology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland Street, 1220, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


Suicidal behavior is a prevalent problem among adolescents and young adults. Although most theoretical models of suicide suggest that this behavior results from the interaction of different risk factors, most prior studies have tested only bivariate associations between individual risk factors and suicidal behaviors. The current study was designed to address this limitation by testing the effect of an emotion-cognition interaction on suicide attempts among youth. Specifically, we hypothesized that the interaction of emotion reactivity and problem-solving skills would statistically predict the probability of a recent suicide attempt among 87 adolescents and young adults. Results revealed a significant interaction, such that emotion reactivity was strongly associated with the probability of a suicide attempt among those with poor problem-solving skills, moderately associated among those with average problem-solving skills, and not significantly associated among those with good problem-solving skills. The next generation of studies on suicidal behavior should continue to examine how risk factors interact to predict this dangerous outcome.

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