Presentation at the National Suicide Prevention Conference, Melbourne Australia, July 2013
Help-negation is seen when the severity of an individual’s suicidal ideation increases and they become less likely to seek help as a result of their condition. Research has implicated distorted affect regulation and perceptual processes related to social support in the development of help-negation among suicidal individuals (Wilson et al., 2013). Future research needs to focus on psycho-social factors that can be linked to neurological processes that differentiate suicidal individuals from controls and are directly implicated in the help-negation processes associated with suicidal ideation. As suicidal individuals have interpersonal needs rejected they may cease to seek or accept help. The Interpersonal theory of suicide proposes that in people who think about suicide, the need to belong is not being met (Joiner, 2005). This state is referred to as Thwarted Belongingness (TB). TB is a construct which is theorised to reflect both self-report perceptions of not belonging and reductions in objective social variables such as social networks size and frequency of social interaction. Observable indicators of TB include characteristically smaller social networks and less frequent interaction with network members compared to controls (Veiel et al., 1988, Steinhausen et al., 2006). Biased information processing facilitated by suicide schemas coupled with an inability to assign accurate value to the social environment may influence whether self-report TB corresponds with reductions in objective social variables. This paper presents results of a structured literature review that examined the degree to which TB has been implicated in help-negation following suicidal ideation. The review found that social network size and frequency of social interaction have received relatively little focus in suicide research. No published studies had investigated whether network size and interaction rates are observable indicators of TB. Implications for prevention and directions for current research are discussed.