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The role of suicidal mental imagery and experiential avoidance in suicidality: An exploratory study
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  • Hannah Maynard,
  • James Gregory,
  • Andrea Davies,
  • Professor John Fox
Hannah Maynard
Cardiff University

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James Gregory
Cardiff University
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Andrea Davies
NHS Wales Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board
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Professor John Fox
University of Liverpool
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Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of suicide-related mental imagery (SuiMI) and experiential avoidance (EA) on suicidality. It was hypothesised that greater frequency of SuiMI would be associated with greater EA. It was also hypothesised that greater SuiMI would be associated with greater suicidality, and that EA may mediate or moderate this relationship. Method: Hypotheses were tested by surveying 197 university students who completed self-report measures that assessed suicide-related mental imagery, experiential avoidance, and suicidality. Results: Frequency of SuiMI was positively correlated with tendency to engage in EA. SuiMI was a significant predictor of both suicidality and EA. Exploratory analysis found that spontaneous SuiMI explained greater variance in suicidality than intrusive SuiMI, and that SuiMI only predicted EA in low-risk participants and not for those at high risk of suicide. EA did not predict suicidality and did not show a mediating or moderating influence on the relationship between SuiMI and suicidality. Conclusion: There is evidence to suggest that suicide-related mental imagery may play an important role in suicide risk. Future research should explore the processes involved in this relationship and how these may differ according to type of SuiMI.