Associations between fearlessness about death and suicidal ideation in individuals with psychosis

Jennifer Villa, Duncan G. Campbell, Emma M. Parrish, Min Eun Jeon, Morgan Robison, Thomas Joiner, Amy E. Pinkham, Philip D. Harvey, Colin A. Depp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Despite high rates of suicide among people with psychosis, relatively little is known about the mechanisms underlying the transition from suicidal ideation to behavior in this population. The Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide (IPTS) proposes that fearlessness about death (FAD) may play a role in this relationship. The present study tested whether constructs of the IPTS [thwarted belongingness (TB), perceived burdensomeness (PB), and FAD] were associated with the severity of suicidal ideation in a sample of adults with histories of psychosis. Method: 261 adults with histories of psychosis completed measures of IPTS constructs, current severity of suicidal ideation, and history of suicidal attempts. We examined differences between those with past suicide attempts and those without and conducted regression analyses to evaluate the associations among TB, PB, FAD and severity of current suicidal ideation. Results: Contrary to expectations, a history of suicidal behavior was not uniquely associated with FAD. Regression analyses revealed TB × PB and FAD × PB interactions emerged as significant correlates of the severity of suicidal ideation, with the relationship between PB and suicidal ideation more pronounced at higher levels of FAD and TB. Interestingly, positive symptoms of psychosis were positively associated with PB. Implications: This study provides support for broadening the investigation of FAD as a contributor to suicidal ideation in individuals with psychotic symptoms. Future research investigating the role of other contributors that may influence capability for suicide (e.g., impulsivity) may add additional understanding of suicide in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-102
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Research
StatePublished - Jul 2024


  • Acquired capability
  • Interpersonal theory
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Suicidality


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