Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Psychology

Sub-Department

Clinical-Community Psychology

First Advisor

Patrick S Malone

Abstract

Suicidal behavior and alcohol use are major public health concerns in the United States; however the association between these behaviors has received relatively little empirical attention. The relative lack of research in this area may be due in part to the absence of theory explaining the alcohol use-suicidality link. This dissertation expands upon Conner, McCloskey, and Duberstein's (2008) model of suicide in alcoholics and proposes a theoretical framework that can be used to explain why a range of adult alcohol users may engage in suicidal behaviors. Guided by this model, a review and evaluation of the evidence is presented on the associations among several constructs that may contribute to suicidal behaviors in alcohol consumers. Then, the purpose of the dissertation project is described and several hypotheses are proposed and tested investigating the associations among study variables in college students (N = 475). Results indicated that college students who consume higher levels of alcohol will be at an increased risk of experiencing a life strain in the form of an alcohol-related problem, negative life event, and/or interpersonal difficulty, which will increase their risk of experiencing depressive symptoms and/or engaging in suicide prone behaviors regardless of their perceived level of social support from family, friends, or significant others. The findings from this work should inform future research and facilitate further empirical analyses on the interactive effects among risk factors that may contribute to suicidal behaviors. Once the nature of these associations is better understood among students, more effective suicide prevention programs may be designed and implemented on college campuses.

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