Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Greg Edgin



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Chair

Owen Lightsey

Committee Member

Suzanne Lease

Committee Member

Jia Wei Zhang


Suicide is a serious and growing problem that has not been adequately explained by prior theories. The interpersonal theory of suicide (IPT) was derived to explain the progression of suicidality by positing that thwarted belongingness (TB) and perceived burdensomeness (PB), combined with hopelessness about these states (interpersonal hopelessness), lead to active suicidal ideation, which in turn leads to suicidal behaviors. However, no prospective tests of IPT hypotheses have utilized a measure of interpersonal hopelessness. Additionally, IPT neglects factors that may protect against or explain the progression of suicidality, such as meaning in life. The purpose of the current study was to extend IPT by examining the ability of the joint TB x PB x interpersonal hopelessness interaction to predict future suicidal desire, also termed active suicidal ideation. An additional purpose was to test whether meaning in life buffers the relationship between TB, PB, and interpersonal hopelessness, which would in theory stop the progression to active suicidal ideation. Exploratory analyses were also conducted to examine the alternative possibility that meaning in life mediated relationships between TB, PB, and interpersonal hopelessness or postulated relationships between other constructs in IPT. A broad sample was obtained through a university in the Southeast, social media, and Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk). Self-report questionnaires of all constructs were administered twice, in two waves separated by approximately 8 weeks. Because only 53 participants completed valid wave 2 measures, analyses were conducted on 285 wave 1 participants. Hierarchical multiple regression and the PROCESS macro (Hayes, 2022) were utilized to examine hypotheses and exploratory research questions. The two-way PB x interpersonal hopelessness interaction predicted increased active suicidal ideation, such that, at higher levels of PB, interpersonal hopelessness was a stronger predictor of active suicidal ideation. Other hypotheses were not supported: Meaning in life did not buffer relationships between TB, PB, and interpersonal hopelessness; and neither the TB x interpersonal hopelessness interaction nor the TB x PB x interpersonal hopelessness interaction predicted active suicidal ideation. Lastly, exploratory research questions were not supported.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest


Open Access