Psychological models of suicidal experiences are largely based on cross-sectional or long-term prospective data with follow-up intervals typically greater than 1 year. Recent time-series analyses suggest that these models may not account for fluctuations in suicidal thinking that occur within a period of hours and/or days.

We explored whether previously posited causal relationships between defeat, entrapment and suicidal ideation accounted for temporal associations between these experiences at small time intervals from 3 to 12 h.

Participants (N = 51) completed an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) study, comprising repeated assessments at semi-random time points up to six times per day for 1 week, resulting in 1852 completed questionnaires. Multilevel vector autoregression was used to calculate temporal associations between variables at different time intervals (i.e. 3 to 12 h between measurements).

The results showed that entrapment severity was temporally associated with current and later suicidal ideation, consistently over these time intervals. Furthermore, entrapment had two-way temporal associations with defeat and suicidal ideation at time intervals of approximately 3 h. The residual and contemporaneous network revealed significant associations between all variables, of which the association between entrapment and defeat was the strongest.

Although entrapment is key in the pathways leading to suicidal ideation over time periods of months, our results suggest that entrapment may also account for the emergence of suicidal thoughts across time periods spanning a few hours.

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Journal: BJPsych open. 2022 Jul;8(4)

Keywords: defeat, ecological momentary assessment, entrapment, suicidal ideation, suicide,

Applications: EMA,

CamNtech Reference: PD22003

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