Painful and Provocative Events: Determining Which Events Are Associated With Increased Odds of Attempting Suicide

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Objective: The present study sought to determine which painful and provocative events differentiated those with suicidal ideation from those who attempted suicide. Additionally, it presents a novel way of utilizing the Painful and Provocative Scale (PPES) by looking at items dichotomously as experienced or not experienced, instead of the frequency at which they are experienced.

Method: Participants (N = 666) were recruited as part of a large online study seeking to understand suicide risk across multiple high-risk groups (i.e., veterinarians, military service members, transgender individuals, and gun owners) for suicide. Participants in the present study were predominately white, female, and heterosexual.

Results: First, the PPES was examined as a dichotomous measure and results indicate that experiencing physical or sexual abuse, tying a noose, using intravenous drugs, or having injuries that required medical attention were associated with greater odds of attempting suicide; shooting a gun was associated with decreased odds. Next, the PPES was examined as a scale measure and findings indicate that increased exposure to rock climbing, experiencing physical or sexual abuse, or using intravenous drug were associated with increased odds of attempting suicide; while increased exposure to shooting a gun was associated with decreased odds.

Conclusions: The present study adds to the literature on the ideation-to-action framework and provides evidence considering the frequency of experiences using the Painful and Provocative Event Scale may not provide substantial information beyond dichotomous scoring.

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