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01-03-2015 | Uitgave 1/2015

Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy 1/2015

Screening for Suicide Risk in the College Population

Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy > Uitgave 1/2015
Amy Farabaugh, Maren Nyer, Daphne Holt, Lee Baer, Samuel Petrie, Moneika DiPierro, Andrew Nierenberg, Paola Pedrelli, Cristina Cusin, Maurizio Fava, David Mischoulon


Suicide is the third leading cause of death in college students, but there is limited consensual evidence to guide clinicians’ assessment and management of suicide. The aim of the current study was to assess the capability of a simple and practical measure, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) suicide item, to identify college students at high risk of suicide. Exploration of this research question could have important implications in this vulnerable population for identifying those at risk for suicide. Six-hundred-and-fifty-seven college students participated in a mental health screening and completed the BDI and the Suicidal Behaviors Questionnaire-Revised (SBQ-R), which is a detailed measure of suicide risk. We dichotomized the BDI suicide item, which measures suicidal ideation within the past week (presence vs. absence of suicidal ideation) as well as the SBQ-R total score (low vs. high risk of suicide). We computed the kappa statistic for the examination of agreement between these two measures. The kappa coefficient for the BDI suicide item and the SBQ-R was 0.57 for dichotomized scores. The BDI suicide item had a positive predictive value of 74 %, and a negative predictive value of 93 %. In a hierarchical linear regression, the BDI suicide item alone significantly predicted elevated scores on the SBQ-R [Chi square (1) = 128.427, p < 0.001]. These results suggest that affirmative responses on the single BDI suicide item indicate elevated suicide risk. However this single item screening approach will miss some at-risk students.

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