A systematic review and evaluation of measures for suicidal ideation and behaviors in population-based research

Psychol Assess. 2015 Jun;27(2):501-512. doi: 10.1037/pas0000053. Epub 2014 Dec 15.


The use of measures of suicidal ideation and behavior with sound measurement properties is critical in identifying people most at risk of suicide. In particular, brief self-report measures of suicidal ideation and behaviors are needed for use in large-scale population-based research and in the development and evaluation of suicide prevention programs in the community. This review aimed to identify and recommend psychometrically sound self-report measures of suicidal ideation and behaviors that could be used in population-based research of adults. To identify existing self-report measures for adult use, a systematic search was conducted using MEDLINE (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online) and PsycINFO (Psychological Information Database) databases. Abstracts, reference lists, and previous review papers were screened. Once measures were identified, we used a hierarchical criterion-based approach to assess their utility, psychometric properties, and appropriateness for population-based research. Nineteen measures were evaluated against 6 criteria. Three brief measures that met all criteria of the evaluation and demonstrated adequate psychometric properties were the Depressive Symptom Index Suicidality Subscale (DSI-SS), Suicidal Behaviors Questionnaire-Revised (SBQ-R), and Suicidal Ideation Attributes Scale (SIDAS). None of the comprehensive measures met all criteria for use in population-based studies, due to financial costs imposed on use, although the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation (BSSI) and the Adult Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire (ASIQ) had considerable evidence of psychometric robustness. Suicide researchers are encouraged to further establish the validity of scores on these measures across diverse adult populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Depression / psychology
  • Humans
  • Psychometrics
  • Research Design
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Self Report
  • Suicidal Ideation*
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires