Implicit bias for suicide persists after ideation resolves

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Individuals with suicidal ideation (SI), demonstrate an association between suicide-related information and the self that is automatic and outside conscious control (i.e., implicit). However, it is unclear whether this implicit bias is a state-like processes that will resolve with the reduction of SI or whether it is more trait-like and enduring. Given that implicit bias has been proposed as an indirect measurement of SI, understanding its dynamic nature is important. To investigate this, we recruited 79 (22 with a history of, but no current, SI; 57 with no lifetime history of SI) young adults who completed a structured interview assessing current and past SI. Participants also completed the Suicide Affect Misattribution Procedure assessing implicit association with suicide-relevant, negative but not suicide relevant, positive, and neutral stimuli. Participants with a history of SI demonstrated greater implicit bias for suicide compared to participants with no lifetime history, but did not significantly differ in their responses to negative, positive, or neutral stimuli. This indicates that suicide-relevant implicit bias may be a trait-like process that endures after resolution of SI. This has important implications for the conceptualization of cognitive bias in suicide and the use of these biases as implicit markers of SI.

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Psychiatry research

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