The Brief Suicide Cognitions Scale: Development and Clinical Application


The study explored the development of the Brief Suicide Cognitions Scale (B-SCS), a simple and brief measure of suicide risk. The B-SCS provides a brief measure that captures critical aspects of suicide risk embedded in core beliefs about the self as unlovable, one's emotional experience as unbearable, and life problems as unsolvable (i.e., the suicidal belief system), resulting in chronic or enduring suicide risk and heightened vulnerability for acute episodes secondary to internal and external triggers. Data were analyzed from three diverse samples, including a student sample (N = 349), an inpatient psychiatric sample (N = 160), and a sample of emergency department (ED) patients presenting secondary to a suicidal crisis (N = 94). Those in the student and inpatient samples completed additional symptom measures (hopelessness, anxiety, depression) and the ED sample provided 6-month follow-up data for suicide attempts. Reliability (internal consistency, test-retest), concurrent validity, construct (divergent, convergent) validity, factorial, incremental, and predictive validity were evaluated, along with calculation of predictive value of negative and positive tests, sensitivity, and specificity estimates. The B-SCS demonstrated good reliability and validity, a unidimensional factor structure across samples, along with good predictive validity and value in real-world clinical settings. The B-SCS is a brief, reliable and valid measure of suicide risk, with good ability to identify those with enduring risk for subsequent suicide attempts. The B-SCS offers a unique contribution to understanding and assessing the nature of suicide risk over time targeting the suicidal belief system, with easy application across inpatient and outpatient clinical settings, and good predictive value.

Publication Title

Frontiers in Psychiatry