Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Waas, Gregory A.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Youth--Suicidal behavior--United States; Teenagers--Suicidal behavior--United States; Suicide--Psychological aspects; Suicide--United States--Prevention; Sex role--United States


The purpose of the present study was to assess the relationship between empathy level and perceptions of suicide as well as willingness to help a gender consistent adolescent peer. A total of 334 participants, consisting of 182 males and 152 females, 18 - 19 years old, participated in this study. Participants first read about a target peer who exhibited either behavioral or affective symptoms of suicide risk. Participants were then asked to write an open-ended description of the peer and complete questionnaires related to their perceptions of how serious the target peer's problems were, willingness to help the peer, and general attitudes about suicide. It was found that the participants high in empathy were more likely to view the peer's problems as serious, had less negative attitudes toward suicide, and were more willing to help the peer. Women were found to have less negative attitudes toward suicide and were more willing to help than men. In addition, it was found that adolescents were more likely to view the peer's problems as serious and were more willing to engage in certain types of help-giving behaviors in the behavioral scenario than in the affective scenario. The implications of these findings for future research and for the development of suicide prevention programs are discussed.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [88]-96).


ix, 138 pages




Northern Illinois University

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