An Examination of Optimism/Pessimism and Suicide Risk in Primary Care Patients: Does Belief in a Changeable Future Make a Difference?

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An integrative model involving optimism/pessimism and future orientation as predictors of suicide risk (viz., depressive symptoms and suicidal behavior) was tested in a sample of adult, primary care patients. Beyond the additive influence of the two predictors of suicide risk, optimism/pessimism and future orientation were also hypothesized to interact together to exacerbate suicide risk. Results indicated that optimism/pessimism was a robust predictor of suicide risk in adults. Future orientation was found to add significant incremental validity to the prediction of depressive symptoms, but not of suicidal behavior. Noteworthy, the optimism/pessimism × future orientation interaction was found to significantly augment the prediction of both depressive symptoms and suicidal behavior. Implications for therapeutic enhancement of future-oriented constructs in the treatment of suicidal individuals are discussed.