The interpersonal psychological theory of suicidal behavior

To ask whether something can be prevented or not, one must first understand its meaning. Suicide is not the same as a desire to die, but a deep desire to leave a life considered difficult or impossible to bear.

Dr Thomas Joiner, creator of the interpersonal psychological theory of suicidal behavior, Proposes through his research that an individual will die by suicide only if he has the desire to die by suicide and he has the capacity to fulfill his desire, based on the problems of connecting with others. Then we will see what this theory consists of.

    The interpersonal psychological theory of suicidal behavior

    The theoretical basis of this approach has three main elements.

    1. Frustrated sense of belonging

    The first element of the theory is a frustrated sense of belonging; and does the evidence indicate that when people die by suicide, they more often than not feel disconnected from others, giving rise to an idea and a feeling on the part of individuals who nobody really cares about themAs an alternative, it may reflect the feeling that while “some may care,” no one can relate to them and understand their situation.

    Both sensations leave deep feelings of loneliness, the person feels isolated and clearly helplessThis idea often contradicts a different reality, as people who die by suicide rarely, if ever, have other people who care about them, but dysfunctional automatic thoughts are able to distort individuals’ perceptions of the world around them. .

    In addition, even though there are people who care about them, they cannot relate to their lived experience in the case of people who have gone through trauma or unpleasant experience, so people can relate to themselves. feel estranged from others. events, no matter how much knowledge others have of that event.

      2. The perceived charge

      The second element is the perceived burden, which, like frustrated adherence, it is driven by distorted automatic thoughts; and it is these two elements that make up the “desire for suicide”.

      People who experience elevations in this variable feel that they are not making valuable contributions to the world around them. They can be inundated with thoughts of worthlessness and handicap, therefore they are sure that the lives of others would improve if they disappeared or that there would be no difference in their own existence.

      Again, these beliefs, in case they are not true, are a common cognitive tendency on the part of individuals after experiencing certain types of particular events. Losing a job, losing a promotion, retiring and failing an exam are several examples of the types of experiences that can generate a feeling of dread. In the case of thoughts mediated by comments followed by constant emotional violence, they only reaffirm the constant self-disqualification that an individual already possesses.

      3. The acquired capacity

      The third element, learned ability, revalidates the process that occurs when brain centers responsible for motivation and learning interact and mood alters the perceived intensity of pain. This is how physical pain becomes less pronounced over time as the body gets used to the experience.

      In this way, people who injure themselves develop courage in the face of pain and injury, and who, according to theory, acquire this preparation through a process of repeatedly experiencing painful events. These experiences often include previous self-harm, but can also include other experiences, such as repeated accidental injuries; many physical fights; and professions such as that of a medic or front-line soldier in which exposure to pain and injury, directly or indirectly, has become common.

      Any attempted death should be considered a serious act, as many people repeat their acts. People who do everything to ensure that their intention to die is seen. This is their own indirect way of asking for help, the situation they are living in unfolds with great anguish, and what they are asking for is to be saved.

      So, can theory prevent suicide?

      Interpersonal psychological theory of suicidal behavior emphasizes the importance for specialists of knowing the levels of belonging, perceived burden and learned capacity of their patients (especially if there is a history of previous suicide attempts) , because this knowledge can help assess risk of suicide and in the therapeutic process, a precise intervention knowing these variables and being able to tackle these cognitive distortions in time are able to give a twist to the cognitions which affect us.

      Some techniques to use are cognitive restructuring proposed by Aaron T. Beck; this tool is recognized worldwide as very effective in eliminating / treating anxiety, depression and stress. The idea is to address cognitive patterns, dysfunctional beliefs in order to modify or weaken them.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Thomas Joiner, Ph.D. (June 2009). American Association of APA Psychology. Extract from The Interpersonal-Psychological Theory of Suicidal Behavior: Current Empirical Status:

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