Social behavior, interaction appraisals, and suicidal ideation in schizophrenia: The dangers of being alone

Schizophr Res. 2016 Apr;172(1-3):195-200. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2016.02.028.


Despite the increasing attention to social appraisals in suicide risk, the interpersonal correlates of suicidal thoughts and behavior in schizophrenia are not well understood. Ecological momentary assessment could reveal whether dysfunctional social appraisals and behavior are evident in people with schizophrenia with suicidal ideation. A total of 93 outpatients with diagnoses of schizophrenia with (n=18, 19%) and without (N=75; 81%) suicidal ideation participated in one week of intensive daily monitoring via mobile devices, generating real-time reports on the quantity of social interactions and appraisals about them, as well as information concerning concurrent affect and symptoms. The presence of suicidal ideation was not associated with the quantity of social interactions or time spent alone, but it was associated with the anticipation of being alone as well as greater negative and lower positive affect when alone. Despite this aversive experience of being alone, people with suicidal ideation reported negative appraisals about the value of recent and potential social interactions. These findings suggest that suicidal ideation in schizophrenia may not be associated with the quantity of social interactions, but with negative expectations about the quality of social interactions coupled with an aversive experience of being alone. Cognitive therapy interventions that address negative expectations and pleasure about social interactions, especially when alone, may reduce suicidal ideation.

Keywords: Depression; Ecological momentary assessment; Mobile technology; Psychosis; Self-Harm; Suicide.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Phone
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Schizophrenia*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Suicidal Ideation*