• Catherine Jackson

Student thesis: Doctor of Clinical Psychology


The thesis focuses on the relationship between self-esteem, self-criticism, self-reassurance and suicidality. Paper one describes a systematic literature review and meta-analyses of the available research on self-esteem and suicidality. The review aimed to examine the relationship between self-esteem and suicidality, and whether there were any key moderators or mediators of this relationship. The findings indicate that there is an overall moderate negative relationship between global self-esteem and suicidality with an r=-0.42. Where studies examined levels of contingent self-esteem (i.e. self-esteem based upon external factors such as academic achievement and appearance) there was a stronger relationship with suicidal ideation and behaviours. Implicit self-esteem was measured by one study, which showed no relationship to suicide, however the combination of high implicit and low explicit self-esteem was significantly related. The review illustrated the need for further investigation of the relative contingency of self-esteem to suicidality, along with differences in implicit and explicit self-esteem and suicidality. Further longitudinal and experimental studies are also warranted to explore causality. Paper two describes an investigation into the role of self-criticism, specifically feelings of inadequacy and self-attacking, self-reassurance and suicide risk. A total of 101 participants from mental health inpatient and community mental health settings completed questionnaires for this study. Results indicated that self-attacking was significantly associated with suicide risk, when hopelessness and depression were controlled for in the analysis. Entrapment, hopelessness and self-attacking were significant predictors of suicide risk, above depression, which was non-significant. Inadequacy was not a significant predictor of suicide risk. Self-reassurance, whilst negatively related to both self-attacking and inadequacy, did not moderate the relationship between self-attacking, inadequacy and suicide risk. The theoretical, clinical and research implications, along with limitations are discussed within this paper. Paper three provides a critical reflection of papers one and two, including an exploration of the challenges of defining and measuring self-esteem, self-criticism and suicide. Personal reflections and recommendations for good practice in future suicide research are included in this paper.
Date of Award1 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorGillian Haddock (Supervisor) & Daniel Pratt (Supervisor)


  • self-compassion
  • Self-attacking
  • suicidal ideation
  • suicide
  • self-esteem
  • self-criticism

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