Role of thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness in the relationship between violent daydreaming and suicidal ideation in two adult samples

Date08 January 2018
Published date08 January 2018
AuthorCarol Chu,Megan L. Rogers,Anna R. Gai,Thomas E. Joiner
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression, conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology, policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
Invited paper
Role of thwarted belongingness and
perceived burdensomeness in the
relationship between violent daydreaming
and suicidal ideation in two adult samples
Carol Chu, Megan L. Rogers, Anna R. Gai and Thomas E. Joiner
Purpose Despite evidence that violent daydreaming is a correlate of suicidal ideation, no research has
examined the mechanisms underlying this association. The interpersonal theory of suicide may provide
insight. This theory postulates that individuals with high suicidal desire experience intractable feelings of
perceived burdensomeness (PB) and thwarted belongingness (TB). Violent daydreaming may fuel negative
attitudes toward others and oneself and turn attention away from loved ones, thereby increasing feelings that
one is a burden on others (PB) and socially disconnected (TB). However, no studies have tested TB and PB
as explanatory mechanisms. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationships between violent
daydreaming, PB, TB, suicidal ideation, and depression in two samples (n ¼818).
Design/methodology/approach Study 1 was comprised of general undergraduates, and Study 2
selected for undergraduates with a history of ideation. Self-report measures were administered and indirect
effects analyses were conducted.
Findings In both studies, violent daydreaming was associated with increased feelings of PB, TB, and
ideation severity. Consistent with the interpersonal theory, TB and PB were significant parallel mediators of
the relationship between violent daydreaming and suicidal ideation, beyond sex and age. In contrast to
Study 1, results were no longer significant in Study 2 after accounting for depression.
Originality/value This was the first study to test TB and PB as mechanisms underlying the relationship
between violent daydreaming and suicide risk. Findings highlight the importance of monitoring and
addressing violent daydreams and interpersonal functioning throughout treatment to mitigate risk.
Keywords Depression, Suicidal ideation, Perceived burdensomeness, Thwarted belongingness,
Interpersonal theory of suicide, Violent daydreaming
Paper type Research paper
Emerging adulthood is a developmental period that is often associated with the transition to
college, involving significant stress and changes in social support. One survey of first-year
undergraduatesconducted in 2010 revealedthat many young adults start collegein an emotionally
vulnerable state and lack the skills to manage the college stressors (Sieben, 2011). Therefore,
college may increase risk for non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicidal behavior. Indeed,
researchers estimate that approximately 12-38 percent of older adolescents and young adults
have engagedin NSSI (Gratz et al., 2002; Heath et al., 2008;Jacobson and Gould, 2007; Polk and
Liss, 2007), while therate of lifetime NSSI among the general adults is approximately5.9 percent
Received 13 October 2016
Revised 4 January 2017
Accepted 12 February 2017
This research was supported, in
part, by a grant from the National
Institute of Mental Health (T32
MH093311-04). This work was
also supported by the Military
Suicide Research Consortium
(MSRC) and the Office of the
Assistant Secretary of Defense for
Health Affairs under Award No.
(W81XWH-10-2-0181, W81XWH-
16-2-0003). Opinions,
interpretations, conclusions, and
recommendations are those of the
authors and are not necessarily
endorsed by the MSRC or the
Department of Defense.
Carol Chu is a Graduate
Student, Megan L. Rogers is a
Graduate Student, Anna R. Gai
is a Graduate Student and
Thomas E. Joiner is The Robert
O. Lawton Distinguished
Professor of Psychology, all at
the Department of Psychology,
Florida State University,
Tallahassee, Florida, USA.
DOI 10.1108/JACPR-10-2016-0255 VOL. 10 NO. 1 2018, pp.11-23, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599
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