A new study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders aimed to investigate the relationship between feelings of entrapment, social problem-solving skills, and suicidal behavior in individuals with depression across the adult lifespan. The findings indicate that feelings of entrapment and social problem-solving skills both are related to suicide but are more impactful at different points in the lifespan.
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Suicide is a major public health concern, and depression is a significant risk factor for suicidal behavior. Previous research has suggested that feelings of entrapment and poor social problem-solving skills may contribute to suicidal behavior. Entrapment is defined as the perception of being stuck in an intolerable situation, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness and, ultimately, suicidal ideation and behavior.
Social problem-solving skills refer to the ability to identify and evaluate potential solutions to problems and to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of those solutions. Individuals lacking these skills may feel stuck in difficult situations, which can contribute to hopelessness and suicidal ideation.
Previous research has examined the relationship between entrapment, social problem-solving skills, and suicidal behavior, but little is known about how these factors interact across the adult lifespan. The authors of the new study argue that understanding the complex interplay between these factors is essential for developing effective interventions for preventing suicidal behavior in individuals with depression.
The study included 1,162 participants with depression who were recruited from inpatient psychiatric units, outpatient clinics, advertisements, or primary care providers. Participants’ demographic, diagnostic, and clinical information were collected through structured interviews and self-reports. Psychological diagnoses were made using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM Disorders, and the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale evaluated lifetime physical illness burden.
The study used statistical analysis to examine the relationship between feelings of entrapment, social problem-solving skills, and suicidal behavior while controlling for depression severity and other demographic and clinical factors.
Their findings indicate that feelings of entrapment and poor social problem-solving skills were significantly associated with suicidal behavior. However, the relationship between these factors and suicidal behavior varied across the adult lifespan. Specifically, feelings of entrapment were more strongly associated with suicidal behavior in younger adults, while poor social problem-solving skills were more strongly associated with suicidal behavior in older adults. The study also found that women were likelier to report feelings of entrapment, while men were likelier to report poor social problem-solving skills.
The study has several acknowledged limitations to consider when interpreting the results. First, the study relied on self-reported measures of feelings of entrapment and social problem-solving skills, which may be subject to bias. Second, the study was cross-sectional, meaning it cannot establish causality. Third, the study only included individuals with depression, limiting the findings’ generalizability to other populations.
The study’s findings revealed that feelings of entrapment and poor social problem-solving skills are essential to understanding suicidal behavior in individuals with depression. The study’s results also highlight the importance of considering age and gender when examining the relationship between these factors and suicidal behavior. The research team suggests that interventions aimed at reducing feelings of entrapment and improving social problem-solving skills may effectively prevent suicidal behavior in individuals with depression.
The study, “Entrapment and social problem-solving in suicidal behavior across the adult lifespan,” was authored by C. Wang, J.G. Keilp, H. Galfalvy, J.A. Bridge, A.H. Sheftall, and K. Szanto.