The Relationship Between Self-criticism and Suicide Probability

Catherine O'Neill, Daniel Pratt, Meryl Kilshaw, Kate Ward, James Kelly, Gillian Haddock

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The relationship of self-to-self relating and suicide has received attention in explanatory models of suicide. However, exploration of specific types of self-relationships, namely feelings of inadequacy (associated with perfectionism), self-attacking and the ability to be kind and nurturing towards the self has received limited attention in a suicidal population. The present study assessed the relative contribution of self-criticism to suicide probability, alongside established predictors of suicidal ideation; hopelessness, depression, defeat and entrapment. Participants completed measures of inadequacy, self-attacking, self-reassurance, defeat, entrapment, depression and hopelessness (N = 101). A correlation, regression and mediation analysis was undertaken. Results demonstrated that self-attacking has a direct relationship with suicide probability, alongside established predictors; entrapment and hopelessness. Depressive symptomology was not found to be a significant predictor of suicide probability in this population. Addressing particularly hostile forms of self-criticism may be a promising area in terms of future research and clinical practice. Entrapment continues to be a significant predictor of suicide risk and interventions that target this experience should be explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1445-1456
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Psychology & Psychotherapy
Issue number6
Early online date13 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2021


  • Suicide
  • Self-criticism
  • Self-esteem
  • Compassion
  • Self-attacking


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