A patient's risk of attempting suicide can be effectively predicted, says a study, through two tests developed by scientists.
Developed by Harvard University psychologists, they can be easily administered on computers to provide insights into how patients are thinking about suicide, as well as their inclination to attempt suicide in the near future.
These tests, named Suicide Stroop and Implicit Association Test, identify the extent to which patients associate death or suicide with themselves.
The study revealed that suicidal individuals were found to pay more attention to suicide-related words than to neutral words.
"Suicide Stroop scores predicted six-month follow-up suicide attempts above and beyond well-known risk factors such as a history of suicide attempts, patients' reported likelihood of attempt, and clinicians' predictions regarding patients' likelihood of attempt," says co-author Christine B. Cha, a doctoral student in psychology at Harvard.
The results of Implicit Association Test, developed by Harvard psychologist Mahzarin R. Banaji, showed that participants with strong associations between self and death/suicide were more likely to attempt suicide within the next six months than those holding stronger associations between self and life.
"More specifically, an implicit association with death/suicide may represent one of the final steps in the pathway to suicide," said Banaji.
The studies are published in the current Journal of Abnormal Psychology and a second published in Psychological Science.