Family relationships and the interpersonal theory of suicide in a clinically suicidal sample of adolescents

Quintin A. Hunt, E. Stephanie Krauthamer Ewing, Lindsey M. Weiler, Feven A. Ogbaselase, Tai Mendenhall, Jenifer K. McGuire, Morgan Monet, Roger Kobak, Guy S. Diamond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In a sample of suicidal adolescents (N = 117), we sought to identify how adolescents' attachment to their parents related to a key mechanism of suicide from the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (IPTS). We tested both attachment-anxiety and attachment-avoidance, to both mother- and father-figures as correlates of the IPTS construct, perceived burdensomeness (PB). In addition, we tested PB as a mediator between these attachment variables and adolescent suicide ideation in a path analysis. Our path analysis indicated both mother- and father-related attachment anxiety were associated with PB and PB was related to suicide ideation. We also found an indirect effect of father-related attachment anxiety on suicide ideation. This study provides empirical support for earlier systemic work that proposes how family relationships may influence an adolescent's suicidal ideation. Finally, we provide practical clinical suggestions for how therapists may implement a systemic framework to address a suicidal adolescent and their family relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)798-811
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of marital and family therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 5 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (Grant R01‐MH091059)

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy


  • adolescence
  • family
  • interpersonal needs questionnaire
  • interpersonal theory of suicide
  • perceived burdensomeness


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