Suicide risk and protective factors : a network approach : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science (by thesis) in Psychology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Suicide is a complex phenomenon, with numerous factors contributing to an individual’s risk of suicide. To visualise and quantify complex interactions between variables, a novel approach called network analysis can be used. The aim of the present study was to explore how risk and protective factors for suicide interact with one another, and to determine which factors were most central to a network of these factors. Using an online survey, cross- sectional data was collected from a sample of 515 individuals who lived in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, who were recruited through either social media or Prolific Academic. A network of 18 risk and protective factors for suicide was estimated using network analysis. In the network, suicidal ideation was strongly related to the suicide risk factors of feeling depressed, anxious, and hopeless, as well as substance use and perceived burdensomeness. In contrast, self-esteem, resilience, access to mental health services and a positive attitude towards these services were each protective against suicidal ideation. Factors which had the highest strength centrality were feeling depressed, feeling hopeless, perceived burdensomeness, self-esteem, and social support. The results of this research emphasise the importance of examining protective factors as well as risk factors when determining an individual’s suicide risk.
Suicide, Risk factors, Prevention, System analysis, network analysis, protective factors, risk factors, suicide