Suicide in the face of existential dread: a goal-regulation perspective on suicide ideation
LE3 .A278 2020
Bachelor of Science
Research on the problem of living and dying has found that people reduce death-anxiety by pursuing meaningful life goals. However, when people lose hope for achieving these goals, they may feel that their life lacks purpose and begin to withdraw from the broader goal to remain alive. The current study investigated whether conditions known to produce this life-withdrawn state also promote thoughts about suicide. Accordingly, 71 Acadia University students were asked to think about death (vs. control) and were assigned to a condition that helped or hindered their ability to affirm meaning in their lives. Finally, they completed an implicit measure that gauged the extent to which suicidal thoughts become activated. I hypothesized that individuals who were reminded of death and subsequently had meaning defenses blocked would exhibit increased implicit suicide ideation. Further, I expected this effect would be exacerbated among participants with dispositionally low psychological wellbeing. Results showed no significant effects or interactions. However, the final sample size was smaller than planned, and the pattern of results were the reverse of expectations. Discussion focuses on methodological limitations, alternative theoretical perspectives, and avenues for future research
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