Julio Brionez

Date of Award

January 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services

First Advisor

Rachel Navarro


The suicide rate in the United States of America continues to climb despite national strategies to reduce it (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention & National Center for Health Statistics, 2016; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Surgeon General & National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, 2012). What the strategies lack is mechanisms to target implicit attitudes (IAs) about suicide. This omission is important as IAs have been effective at predicting future suicide attempts (Nock et al., 2010). This study used an implicit association test of attitudes to suicide (IAT-SUICIDE) to examine IAs to suicide using sympathy and stigma word pairings. The IAT-SUICIDE compared reaction times of participants to images of suicide attempts with stigma or sympathy word pairings (e.g., suicide + bad or suicide + sad). Six other measures were used in this study to assess (a) attitudes toward suicide (b) attitudes to people who die or attempt suicide (c) knowledge of suicide prevention and risk factors (e) intent to prevent suicide by asking or referring (e) exposure to suicide (f) depression symptomology. Adults (N=111) from 32 states participated in this study. Results show IAs to suicide significantly affected explicit attitudes to suicide in two domains (incomprehensibility, sympathy). Additional findings showed exposure to suicide significantly affected knowledge of suicide prevention and risk factors. Results show necessity for prevention education for people with implicit stigma and low to no exposure to suicide. Limitations to the study, areas for improvement, and directions for future research are also discussed.