Term of Award

Fall 2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Jeff Klibert

Committee Member 1

Haresh Rochani

Committee Member 2

Nicholas Holtzman


Suicide continues to be one of the leading causes of death in the United States, which highlights the need for researchers to identify protective models through longitudinal designs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2019). Importantly, suicide prevention strategies are more efficacious when they target early indicators of suicide and consider risk and protective factors. Desire for death, the combination of thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness proposed by the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior (Van Orden et al., 2008), is one such early marker of suicidal behavior. A protect factor is methodologically defined as one that demonstrates an inverse relationship and temporal precedence in predicting an outcome variable, as well as reduces the effect of stress on an outcome (Vagi et al., 2013; Steca et al., 2014). Two potential positive psychological resources may serve as protective factors for desire for death are savoring the moment and resilience. The purpose of the current study is to evaluate whether savoring the moment and resilience serve as protective factors for desire for death in a sample of community adults. The study employed a three-wave longitudinal design, where participants completed an online survey once every 2 months. Data were collected from an initial sample of 812 community adults, with a final sample of 248 participants who completed all phases of data collection. Stress exhibited fluctuating effects on desire for death cross-sectionally, but demonstrated a significant positive relationship with desire for death in longitudinal models. Savoring the moment was inversely related to desire for death scores cross-sectionally and over time, but did not buffer the relationship between stress and desire for death cross-sectionally or over time. Resilience was negatively associated with desire for death at Time 1 and Time 2, but not Time 3. Additionally, there were no significant interaction effects between stress and resilience on desire for death at any time point or across time. These findings highlight the importance of savoring the moment and resilience in reducing risk to early markers of suicide; however, other factors may better explain the conditional effects of stress on desire for death.

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Research Data and Supplementary Material