Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School Psychology

Document Type



Suicide remains a leading cause of death for youth, and the prevalence of suicidal behaviors continues to increase while demographic trends shift. Despite the considerable scope and impact of this global public health issue and robust evidence that cultural minority and gender-diverse youth are at particular risk, there is a significant dearth in the literature with respect to nonrandom variance or possible systematic error in suicide risk assessment practices. Moreover, studies related to school-based risk assessment are scarce despite the ethical and legal imperative to identify and serve at-risk youth as well as the unique ecological position of schools to achieve this. To address these specific gaps and contribute to and expand the presently limited school-based suicidology literature broadly, this study aimed to examine differences in risk assessment determinations related to student gender in order to identify potential points of assessor-related variance. Vignettes were utilized to examine patterns of risk appraisal and recommendations, and results reflected significant variation in both how risk was appraised as well as the relation between risk appraisal and subsequent referral recommendations. As the prevalence of suicidal behavior continues to be highest for gender-diverse youth, it is vital to address sources of variance in risk assessment practices. Enhancing understanding of how the contextual and student-level factors that impact suicide risk also impact risk assessment practices is vital for the well-being of youth, as it may lead to improved school-based suicide prevention.



Committee Chair

Long, Anna