A preliminary validation of the Suicidal Behavior Exposure Scale.

Objective: Research on suicide contagion has suggested that exposure to suicide-related thoughts and behaviors of others promotes one’s personal risk for suicide. However, our understanding of the role suicidal exposure plays in the development of suicide risk is underdeveloped. This limited understanding may be due, in part, to the lack of a validated measure of exposure to suicidal behavior. The present study aimed to develop and validate a comprehensive self-report instrument of exposure to suicidal behaviors. Method: Using two independent convenience samples of undergraduate students, exploratory structural equation modeling was performed on a newly developed measure of suicidal exposure. Results: Data supported a three-factor model of suicidal exposure, where Factor 1 is exposure to suicidal communication, Factor 2 is direct exposure to suicide deaths and attempts, and Factor 3 is indirect exposure to suicide deaths and attempts. Each factor demonstrated positive bivariate associations with depressive symptoms, posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, suicide ideation, and suicide attempt history, suggesting convergent validity. Analyses demonstrated generally acceptable internal consistency. Conclusion: This instrument will facilitate the study of suicidal exposure. Further validation of this scale, with attention to its reliability and invariance across gender and other demographic variables in clinically relevant samples, will be important for advancing the assessment of suicidal exposure and understanding its relation to suicide risk. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)