Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



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



According to the interpersonal theory of suicide, for an individual to be capable of engaging in suicidal behavior they must be fearless about death and possess elevated physical pain tolerance. It is believed that such capability is developed through exposure to painful and/or provocative events, which serve to habituate the individual to fear and pain. The current study sought to expand on previous studies to examine the impact of video game play on capability for suicide. Participants (n = 63) were randomly assigned to a violent or non-violent video game condition and fearlessness about death and pain tolerance were assessed at baseline, following exposure to video game play, and at a one-week follow-up. Results revealed no significant between-group differences on changes in capability constructs across time points. Additionally, participants’ perceived immersion in game play did not moderate the relationship between game condition and capability. Similarly, player-perspective (i.e., first- versus third-person) did not influence this relationship. Overall, these results indicate that, contrary to previous findings, brief exposure to violent video game play does not have a robust impact on capability for suicide in the short-term, nor when examined longitudinally. Limitations to the current study’s design preclude definitive conclusions regarding the impact of violent video game play on capability for suicide. Exploratory results and future directions are discussed.