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Suicide is a devastating global phenomenon. Due to its frequent comorbidities, suicide is difficult to research, treat, and prevent. The Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicidal Behavior (IPTSB) posits that acquiring the capability to enact lethal self-injury is necessary to complete a suicide. This capability develops through exposure to painful stimuli, including abuse, self harm, or violence. The strongest predictor of suicide is previous attempts, and people with a history of self-harm or suicide attempt also have higher pain tolerance thresholds, and score higher on measures of acquired capability for suicide. High pain tolerance is also present in eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa (AN). People with AN also score lower on interoceptive accuracy, (sensing internal organs, i.e. heartbeat, hunger). This deficit is shared by people with a history of self-harm. This study will explore the relationship between pain tolerance and interoception in people with a history of suicidality. Participants will complete questionnaires regarding history of self-harm and suicide, followed by a heartbeat detection task, (or HBDT) and cold pressor test (CPT) to measure pain sensitivity and tolerance thresholds. Predictions are that participants who score low on interoceptive accuracy will score high on pain tolerance and sensitivity thresholds, and that there will be a strong negative correlation between interoception and pain tolerance, with interoceptive deficits predicting high pain tolerance. In addition, it is predicted that participants with a history of self-harm or suicide attempt will show a stronger correlation between interoception and pain tolerance thresholds than participants without a history of suicide attempt or self harm.
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Rile-Schmidt, Matthea, "Can You Feel Your Heart Beat? Exploring the Relationship Between Interoception and Suicide" (2017). Senior Projects Spring 2017. 261.