Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Adolescent suicide is a serious problem, yet psychological investigations are limited to delineating effective treatment for suicide attempters. Consideration of those variables which lead to suicide should be included in any effective treatment protocol. The purpose of the present study is to evaluate the degree of life stress, hopelessness, and problem solving ability in adolescents who have attempted or gestured suicide. Fifteen high school-aged adolescents who had attempted or gestured suicide and 15 high school-aged adolescents who were hospitalized for acute physical problems, were administered the Hopelessness Scale (Beck, Weissman, Lester, & Trexler, 1974), a modified version of the Life Experiences Survey (Sarason, Johnson & Siegel, 1978), and the Means-Ends Problem Solving Procedure (Platt, Spivack, & Bloom, 1971). Three separate ANOVAs were computed to compare the two groups on each of these three measures. A significant difference was found for the first two measures. Some effect was found for the third measure, but it was not large enough to be significant. To determine if severity of suicide intent covaries with degree of hopelessness, the Suicide Intent Scale (Beck, Schuyler, & Herman, 1974) was also given to the suicide group and this measure correlated with the results of the Hopelessness Scale (Beck et al.). Although a positive correlation was obtained, it was not large enough to be significant because of a sample size limitation. The implications of these results are considered in the discussion section. It is hypothesized that with timely identification and treatment of such predictors as negative future outlook (hopelessness) and negative cognitions concerning life experiences, the probability of a first or repeat suicide attempt by adolescents can be significantly reduced.