Introduction: Suicide stigma is a major barrier to prevention and intervention efforts. Using terror management theory as the guiding framework, the present study examined whether enhancing self-esteem would buffer against suicide stigma and lead to prosocial attitudes and behavior. Methods: Experimental methods were utilized in the present study. After being primed with death-related thoughts, participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: (1) positive feedback (experimental group) and (2) no feedback (control group). The dependent variables included (1) evaluations of a suicide decedent, (2) intentions to intervene against suicide, and (3) charitable donation behavior toward a suicide prevention organization. Results: The most consistent findings for the self-esteem boost hypothesis were for the interaction effects of death anxiety and self-esteem boost for the donation allocation task and intentions to intervene against suicide. For participants who were reminded of death, the self-esteem boost intervention mitigated the negative impact of death anxiety on donation behavior (i.e., an average difference of $16.37). Positive feedback for participants with reported low self-esteem also led to increased willingness to intervene against suicide. Conclusion: These findings provide some promising potential for the self-esteem enhancement intervention to attenuate defensive reactions to suicide.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior|
|State||Published - Aug 2021|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the University of Kentucky College of Social Work.
© 2021 The American Association of Suicidology
- death anxiety
- suicide attitudes
- terror management theory
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Psychology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health