Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Michael D. Anestis

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Joye C. Anestis

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Bradley A. Green

Committee Member 3 Department


Committee Member 4

Donald F. Sacco

Committee Member 4 Department



Previous research has indicated an association between physical disability and suicidal ideation. However, the mechanisms contributing to the development of suicidal ideation in this population have remained largely unstudied within an empirically supported theoretical framework. The current study expands upon previous research by examining the relationship between different facets of physical disability and suicidal ideation intensity through the indirect effect of perceived stigmatization and interactions with mental states described within the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide, namely perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness. Furthermore, this research aims to examine these potential relationships in a nonclinical sample of adults with physical disabilities ranging in type and severity. It was anticipated that the severity of individuals’ physical disabilities and the perceived visibility of their physical disabilities would independently exhibit an indirect effect on suicidal ideation intensity through individuals’ perceived stigmatization related to their physical disabilities. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that this relationship would be strongest when feelings of perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness were jointly present. Participants in the study were 20 individuals with various physical disabilities from 2 metropolitan areas in the Southeastern United States who were recruited through various methods, including online and printed advertisements. Overall, the results did not support hypotheses. Implications of this research are discussed in detail. This research represents a preliminary step in understanding mechanisms prompting the development of suicidal ideation in individuals with physical disabilities. Future research should aim to clarify the relationship between various facets of physical disability and suicidal ideation.