Implementing the interpersonal theory of suicide to improve outcomes in suicidal adolescents: A pilot trial

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5 Scopus citations


Introduction: The Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide proposes two constructs that serve as a final common pathway to suicidal ideation: thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness. There have been few translations of this theory to clinical care. This study aimed to address this limitation by targeting burden cognitions with novel interventions. Methods: A pilot clinical trial was conducted in an evidence-based intensive outpatient program for suicidal youth. Participants were 123 adolescents who completed measures at intake, discharge, and one-month follow-up. The experimental group consisted of standard care plus study interventions, which was compared with an active control group of standard care. Feedback on intervention acceptability was gathered through qualitative interviews with parents and adolescents. Results: There was a statistically significant drop in thwarted belongingness at discharge and an improvement in perceived burdensomeness at discharge (not statistically significant, small effect size). Feedback on acceptability was favorable and supported implementation. Conclusion: This study adds to the literature by being the first to utilize the construct of perceived burdensomeness in clinical interventions for suicidal youth; illustrating one potential avenue for translating theory to practice. The unexpected effects on thwarted belongingness have implications for the role of these constructs in a treatment setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-640
Number of pages8
JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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