The purpose of this study was to examine implicit affect toward suicide (i.e., how good/bad suicide is perceived). Some people might be more likely to think about/choose suicide because they perceive it as a good option (to gain relief) relative to available alternatives.
Implicit affect toward suicide among adults (N = 72) and adolescents (N = 174) with and without suicidal thoughts was examined using first-person (FP) perspective suicide pictures in the affect misattribution procedure (AMP).
Suicidal adults’ implicit positive affect toward suicide was associated with STB variables, such as explicit valence (r = 0.34) and arousal (r = 0.44) ratings of suicide pictures, and implicit affect differentiated groups above and beyond explicit valence ratings. Contrary to our hypothesis, suicidal participants did not display higher implicit positive affect toward suicide than nonsuicidal participants. However, suicidal participants displayed consistent implicit affect toward different suicide pictures, whereas nonsuicidal participants evaluated some pictures as more pleasant than others (ORs = 1.92–2.27).
Implicit affect toward suicide may relate to STB, but stimuli characteristics (e.g., color) likely influence the accuracy of assessment with the AMP and should be a focus of future research involving this and other implicit measures.