Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Clinical Psychology)


School of Psychology


Suicide is the primary cause of death among adolescents in Australia, and it continues to be a significant cause of mortality globally, with rates on the rise. The Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (ITS) posits that thwarted belongingness (low-belongingness) and perceived burdensomeness (burdensomeness) lead to suicide desire, and hopelessness moderates the intensity of the wish to die. Acquired capability (capability) is theorised to moderate the relationship between these factors and suicide desire, and is positively associated with resoluteness to enact a lethal suicide attempt. While the ITS posits that capability heightens the risk of lethal suicidal behaviour, the theory suggests that an individual’s ability to engage in such behaviour depends on the severity of low-belongingness and burdensomeness. Therefore, the theory asserts that addressing low-belongingness and burdensomeness should be the primary focus of treatment to mitigate the risk of lethal suicidal behaviour. The ITS may be useful in identifying the effective components of treatment and improving intervention outcomes for youth at risk of suicide. However, despite an extensive body of research on ITS, more studies are necessary in clinical populations of young people at risk of suicide. The purpose of this thesis is to explore effective treatment methods for young people at risk of suicide and the ways in which the ITS is useful in this context.

FoR codes (2008)

110319 Psychiatry (incl. Psychotherapy), 111714 Mental Health, 1701 PSYCHOLOGY, 1799 OTHER PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.