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The present study examined some specific mechanisms that might underlie the connection between alcohol and suicide risk. According to the Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicide, individuals who experience thwarted belongingness, perceived burdensomeness and an increased ability and willingness to tolerate physical pain are at an elevated risk for a lethal suicide attempt. We examined this theory while also investigating possible mechanisms by which alcohol intoxication might increase factors associated with suicide risk. Specifically, we examined a leading theory of alcohol's effect on emotion, which suggests that alcohol can actually increase distress in certain situations. This, combined with alcohol's analgesic properties and ability to increase fearlessness suggest that alcohol intoxication could dramatically increase the risk and lethality of suicide-related behaviors. In the present study, we manipulated beverage (alcohol versus no-alcohol) and personality feedback (thwarted belongingness versus misfortune control) and measured tolerance for self-inflicted pain via a cold pressor. As predicted, results demonstrate that individuals who had their sense of belongingness thwarted and subsequently consumed alcohol demonstrated significantly higher self-inflicted pain tolerance than those in other groups.
alcohol, non-suicidal self-injury, pain tolerance, social rejection, suicide, thwarted belongingness
Date of Defense
April 21, 2011.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Alan R. Lang, Professor Directing Dissertation; Dina J. Wilke, University Representative; Christopher J. Patrick, Committee Member; Jon K. Maner, Committee Member; Thomas E. Joiner, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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