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Background: An adequate reaction from families, friends, and colleagues who can provide help to suicidal individuals is a preventive factor. Despite the logical assumption that the mere presence of risk factors in individuals needing help may affect others' helping intentions, empirical evidence is lacking in this regard. Method: We tested whether the presence of various risk factors influences the intention to provide help to suicidal individuals. Individuals (N = 890) were exposed to a vignette in which they were asked to imagine meeting a distant acquaintance. Such persons talk about serious problems and suddenly use the word "suicide." In a one-factorial between-subjects design with 21 groups, we manipulated person-related attributes corresponding to risk factors for suicide. Results: Some attributes increased helping intentions: male gender, very young and old age, homosexuality and transsexuality, terminal illness, previous nonsuicidal self-injury, previous suicide attempt, and seeking out lethal means. However, some attributes did not: female gender, major depression, chronic pain, different stressful life events, previously experienced violence, a family history of suicide, and a cry for help. Limitations: We measured self-reported behavioral intentions. Conclusions: Although people seem to adapt their helping intentions in response to some attributes, there seem to be many blind spots.


Florian Arendt, Manina Mestas, Michaela Forrai. Uncovering Blind Spots in the Intention to Provide Adequate Help to Suicidal Individuals. Crisis. 2021 Aug 31

PMID: 34463533

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