Accurately Imagining Suicide: Imagine-Self, Imagine-Person, Observer Instructions1


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    This project was completed as a portion of the master's degree requirements of the first author under the direction of the second.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lillian M. Range, Department of Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-5025.


To see if actor versus observer instructions influenced students' perceptions of social support during a suicidal crisis, 80 students completed social support, interpersonal reactivity, and suicidal behaviors questionnaires. In a yoked design, students who had been suicidal were matched with those who were instructed to imagine themselves being suicidal, to imagine that another person was suicidal, or to observe a person who was suicidal. Those who had been suicidal in the past (n= 20) were more suicidal than the other 3 groups (ns= 20). The suicidal group perceived high social support (belonging and appraisal), compared to the others, who perceived moderate support. Overall, nonsuicidal college students consistently underestimated their suicidal peer's social support, regardless of the instructions they were given.