An examination of the relationship between anger and suicide risk through the lens of the interpersonal theory of suicide.J Psychiatr Res. 2014 Mar; 50:59-65.JP
Research has implicated a relationship between anger and suicidality, though underlying mechanisms remain unclear. The current study examined this relationship through the lens of the interpersonal theory of suicide (ITS). According to the ITS, individuals who experience thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness, and elevated acquired capability for suicide are at increased risk for death by suicide. The relationships between anger and these variables were examined and these variables were examined as potential mediators between anger and suicidal ideation and behavior. Additionally, exposure to painful and provocative events was examined as a potential mediator between anger and acquired capability. As part of intake at a community mental health clinic, 215 outpatients completed questionnaires assessing depression, suicidal ideation, anger, perceived burdensomeness, thwarted belongingness, and acquired capability. Regression analyses revealed unique relationships between anger and both thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness, covarying for depression. The association between anger and acquired capability trended toward significance. The links between anger and suicidal ideation and behavior were fully mediated by thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness, but this effect was driven by perceived burdensomeness. Additionally, the link between anger and acquired capability was fully mediated by experience with painful and provocative events. In conclusion, results suggest that anger is uniquely associated with perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness. Anger is associated with suicidal ideation and behavior via perceived burdensomeness and with greater acquired capability for suicide via experiences with painful and provocative events. Treatment for problematic anger may be beneficial to decrease risk for suicide.