Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1388-7205

Date of Award

8-9-2022

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Kenneth G. Rice, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Cirleen DeBlaere, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Laura Shannonhouse, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Chris Oshima, Ph.D.

Abstract

The suicide rate has been increasing in the world, both in the young and older adult population. Prolific research has investigated causes, mechanisms, and interventions to prevent suicide. Many significant contributions from psychology in providing a theoretical and empirical understanding of suicidal behavior stem from the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (IPTS). Based on the IPTS, the current study aims to examine the hypothesized model showing the relationship between perfectionism and suicidal risk and the moderating role of self-compassion in both young and older adult samples. Before testing the model, measurement invariance between young and older adults was evaluated. Also, multigroup Structural Equation Modeling was done to examine the differences in construct relationships between young and older adults. A total of 260 young adults and 319 older adults were included in the final data analyses. The Short Almost Perfect Scale (SAPS), Self-Compassion Scale Short Form (SCS-SF), and Interpersonal Needs Questionnaire (INQ) were used to measure the constructs. With some adjustments to the measurement models, partial scalar invariance models were supported for the SAPS, SCS-SF, and INQ. Consistent with the literature, perfectionism (Perfectionistic Strivings and Perfectionistic concerns) significantly predicted suicidal risk (Perceived Burdensomeness and Thwarted Belongingness), and self-compassion significantly moderated paths in predicting suicidal risk. Older adults with lower self-compassion and higher perfectionistic concerns predicted higher perceived burdensomeness. Also, a lower level of self-compassion and lower perfectionistic strivings exacerbated suicidal risk. Strengths of associations between constructs were different between young and older adults. The results supported and extended current literature on the relationship between perfectionistic strivings, perfectionistic concerns, and suicidal risks. Also, results provided empirical evidence that self-compassion may work as an important protective factor in mitigating suicidal risks. Further implications, including limitations of the current study and suggestions for future directions, are also discussed.

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