Suicidal ideation as a cognitive trait of personality
The present study operationalizes suicidal ideation by deriving an assessment scale which characterizes the construct as a cognitive trait of personality (Hundleby, 1972; Wiggins, 1973; Scott et al., 1979). A questionnaire has been devised which incorporates 10 independent variable scales (Depression, Hopelessness, Death Anxiety, Manifest Anxiety, Sociability, Impulsiveness, Locus of Control, Defensiveness, Lie Scale and Questionnaire Evaluation/Clarification of Death Cognitions) in addition to the dependent variable of suicidal ideation, SIA. It has been distributed to two broad-spectrum samples of students (University of Aberdeen, N = 110 and University of Alberta, N = 203) in order to investigate the cognitive/structural aspect of this 'nomological net', hypothesized to represent the 'presuicidal syndrome' (Ringel, 1976), in trait terms at both the 'macrostructural' and the 'microstructural' levels of analysis. Through a methodology which may be described as that of 'empirically-based conceptualizing' (Royce, 1973), hypotheses investigated at the global/macrostructural level support the viability of characterizing suicidal ideation in both cognitive/personality and trait/structural terms, as operationalized by the SIA Scale. This objective is similarly met at the microstructural level, with attempts at item/scale analysis suggesting that SIA functions as an appropriate psychometric instrument, given its 'quasi-scale' qualities of unidimensionality and cumulativeness (Guttman, 1971). However, in its brevity it falls short in addressing the overall aim of 'prediction linked to prevention'. Using a correlational model, an augmented operationalization/measure of suicidal ideation is forwarded in SIB: the Suicide Ideation as a Cognitive Trait Scale (SICTS). The resulting 35-item scale demonstrates linearity in its interaction with macrolevel nomological net variables and the ability to discriminate between high and low scoring individuals on composite scale items, as well as on cognitive/linguistic statements external to the nomological net. In addition, an enriched factor structure integrates well with both psychodynamic theory and clinical evidence, suggesting that the SIB Scale, SICTS, demonstrates promising relevance to the estimation of suicide risk, i.e., as this venture is linked to efforts at prevention through diagnosis and cognitive therapy.