The Role of Self-Concealment and Perfectionistic Self-Presentation in Concealment of Psychache and Suicide Ideation
D'Agata, Madeleine T.
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Suicide is a severe societal problem with nearly 1 million people dying by suicide each year worldwide (National Institute of Mental Health, 2009). The goal of the current research was to explore potential risk factors in order to help improve researchers’ and mental health professionals’ ability to identify high-risk individuals who are more likely to conceal their feelings and thoughts from others. The present research examined the relationship of two personality traits, self-concealment and perfectionistic self- presentation, to two suicide related concepts, psychache and suicide ideation, as well as the role of social support within this context. Results of Study 1 indicated that individuals higher on self-concealment and individuals higher on perfectionistic self-presentation were more likely to report psychache as well as concealment of psychache from others. The goal of Study 2 was to replicate and extend the finding that the two traits are significant predictors of suicide ideation, as well as to examine two potential mediators, concealment of psychache and social support, to explain this relationship. Both traits were significant predictors of suicide ideation and concealment of psychache mediated the relationship of suicide ideation with self-concealment and two subcomponents of the Perfectionistic Self-Presentation Scale. Social support mediated the relationship between one of the subcomponents of the Perfectionistic Self-Presentation Scale and suicide ideation. The goal of Study 3 was to further examine the two personality traits, social support, and concealment of psychache, using an experimental design. More specifically, participants were instructed to either describe situations in which they had social support or describe situations in which they had no social support. Results indicated significant differences between participants assigned to the high compared to the low social support conditions in perceived social support, self-concealment, and each of the subscales of the Perfectionistic Self-Presentation Scale. A series of moderated regressions indicated that at low and moderate, but not high, levels of the perfectionistic self-promotion and nondisclosure of imperfection subscales of the Perfectionistic Self-Presentation Scale, higher levels of social support were associated with lower levels of concealment of psychache. The implications of the current research and possible recommendations are discussed.