Title

Cognitive Change Writing Instructions Versus Exposure Writing Instructions Used by Undergraduates Exhibiting Suicidal Thoughts and/or Behaviors

Date of Award

2001

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Lillian M. Range

Advisor Department

Psychology

Abstract

The study assessed the effects of writing about a depressed and/or suicidal time and whether cognitive change was a necessary outcome for the writing process. Dependent measures (suicidal thoughts and behaviors, depression, and physical health) were taken pre-, post- and at 6-week follow-up. Of the 2,109 undergraduates screened for past suicidal thoughts and/or behaviors, 121 individuals agreed to participate in a study involving writing on four days over two-weeks. The participants were randomly assigned to write (a) and reinterpret the events and emotions surrounding a suicidal and/or depressed time, (b) over and over again the events and emotions surrounding a suicidal and/or depressed time or (c) innocuous events. A total of 98 participants completed pre-, post-, and follow-up. No significant group differences occurred on the dependent measures at follow-up. The writing paradigm is not particularly effective for the psychological health of college students who report suicidal thoughts and/or behaviors.