Optimism and suicide ideation among young adult college students

Arch Suicide Res. 2007;11(2):177-85. doi: 10.1080/13811110701249988.


Given that college students may be at increased risk for suicide, it is important to conduct research that could guide suicide prevention efforts on college campuses. Although much research has been conducted on the role of hopelessness and depression in suicide ideation, the role of dispositional optimism is unclear. Subjects were 284 college students (185 female, 65%), ages 18 and over. Optimism was assessed with the Life Orientation Test-Revised. The outcome measure was the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation. A hierarchical, multivariate regression was used to test the hypothesis that optimism is inversely associated with suicide ideation, even after controlling for age, gender, depressive symptoms, and hopelessness. The hypothesis was supported. Optimism holds promise as a cognitive characteristic associated with decreased thoughts of suicide in college students; a better understanding of its putative protective role in this group, and cross-culturally, is needed. Prevention programs designed to enhance optimism in the college setting might decrease suicide risk.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Students / psychology*
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Temperament*
  • United States