Suicidal ideation and stuttering (Tichenor et al., 2023)
Purpose: Suicide and suicidal ideation are topics that have a long but limited history in stuttering research. Clinicians and clinical researchers have discussed personal and therapeutic experiences with clients who have attempted suicide, died by suicide, or struggled with suicidal thoughts. This study sought to (a) explore the occurrence of suicidal ideation in a sample of adults who stutter; (b) evaluate the relationship between adverse impact related to stuttering and suicidal ideation; and (c) document respondents’ thoughts related to suicide, stuttering, and their intersection.
Method: One hundred forty adults who stutter completed the Suicide Behavior Questionnaire–Revised (SBQ-R). Of these, 70 participants completed the Perseverative Thinking Questionnaire (PTQ), and 67 completed the Overall Assessment of the Speaker’s Experience of Stuttering (OASES). Participants who indicated at least some tendency for suicidal thoughts on the SBQ-R (n = 95) were then asked a set of follow-up questions to explore their experiences of suicidal ideation related to stuttering.
Results: Quantitative data indicated that the majority of adults who reported experiencing suicidal ideation associated these experiences with stuttering (61.2%, n = 59). Individuals with higher Total Scores on the PTQ and OASES were predicted to experience significantly higher rates of suicidal ideation and, in particular, a higher likelihood of having more frequent suicidal ideation in the past year. Qualitative analyses revealed that suicidal ideation intersects meaningfully with the experience of stuttering.
Conclusions: Data from this study highlight the importance of considering broader life consequences of stuttering that some adults may experience, including suicidal ideation. By being cognizant that clients may develop such thoughts, speech-language pathologists can play a valuable role in identifying and providing necessary support for at-risk individuals.
Supplemental Material S1. Diagnostic plots for the linear regression equations presented in this article.
Tichenor, S. E., Palasik, S., & Yaruss, J. S. (2023). Understanding the broader impact of stuttering: Suicidal ideation. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2023_AJSLP-23-00007