1. Overview
    We seek to understand why young people think about and attempt suicide in a way that can inform assessment, treatment, and prevention of suicide risk. Our program of research has four broad goals: 1) to study the link between different forms of repetitive thinking, hopelessness, and suicidal ideation; 2) to understand what young people actually think about when they think about suicide, the form that these thoughts take, and whether there are subtypes of suicidal thoughts that can be used to predict who is likely to make a future suicide attempt; 3) to understand the interplay between culture and cognition in explaining risk for suicidal ideation and attempts; and 4) to identify laboratory-based methods of shifting the hopelessness-related cognitions that give rise to suicidal ideation. Below is a list of our current projects.
  2. Adolescent Suicidal Ideation Study
    Knowing how to assess suicide ideation in a way that helps clinicians know whether an adolescent is at short-term risk of making a future suicide attempt is important in preventing the transition from suicidal thought to suicidal behavior. This longitudinal study will examine whether and how two distinct subtypes of suicide ideation may help to identify whether teenagers who present for clinical care are likely to attempt suicide in the near future. Given that clinicians often have limited time to assess risk, knowing which forms of suicidal thinking merit attention may improve clinical triage decisions. Furthermore, understanding the cognitions underlying different types of suicidal thought may also inform psychotherapy interventions with adolescents who report suicide ideation. Funding: National Institutes of Health; Grant # 2SC1 MH091873 Principal Investigator: Miranda
  3. Induced Optimism to Reduce Hopelessness
    This research seeks to examine whether induced optimism reduces the hopelessness-related cognitions that characterize depression and that increase risk for suicidal ideation in emerging adulthood. A recent study (Miranda, Weierich, Khait, Jurska, & Andersen, 2017) involving a paradigm developed in the lab suggests that mental rehearsal in anticipating that positive outcomes will occur and that negative outcomes will not occur in one's future reduces the certainty with which highly depressed individuals make pessimistic predictions about the future, relative to a control condition involving a different mental procedure. Current research seeks to replicate and extend this study to clinical populations at risk for suicidal behavior using both explicit and implicit measures. Principal Investigator: Miranda
  4. Young Adult Study of Emotions and Stress
    This completed longitudinal study examined cognitive risk for suicidal ideation and attempts among emerging and young adults (ages 18-34). Current data analytic efforts are focused on examining the role of future-oriented repetitive thinking, as measured by the Future-Oriented Repetitive Thought (FoRT) Scale (Miranda, Wheeler, Polanco-Roman, & Marroquin, 2017), in the development of suicidal ideation via changes in the certainty with which individuals anticipate positive and negative future outcomes. Furthermore, analyses will also focus on identifying components of hopelessness-related thoughts that give rise to suicidal ideation, both through changes in depressive symptoms and independently of depressive symptoms. Funding: National Institutes of Health; Grant # 5SC1 MH091873 Principal Investigator: Miranda