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The interplay between suicidal experiences, psychotic experiences and interpersonal relationships: a qualitative study

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  • Patricia Gooding
  • Gillian Haddock
  • Kamelia Harris
  • Menita Asriah
  • Yvonne Awenat
  • Leanne Cook
  • Richard J. Drake
  • Richard Emsley
  • Charlotte Huggett
  • Steven Jones
  • Fiona Lobban
  • Paul Marshall
  • Daniel Pratt
  • Sarah Peters
Article number873
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>24/11/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>BMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Background: Suicidal thoughts, acts, plans and deaths are considerably more prevalent in people with non-affective psychosis, including schizophrenia, compared to the general population. Social isolation and interpersonal difficulties have been implicated in pathways which underpin suicidal experiences in people with severe mental health problems. However, the interactions between psychotic experiences, such as hallucinations and paranoia, suicidal experiences, and the presence, and indeed, absence of interpersonal relationships is poorly understood and insufficiently explored. The current study sought to contribute to this understanding. Methods: An inductive thematic analysis was conducted on transcripts of 22, individual, semi-structured interviews with adult participants who had both non-affective psychosis and recent suicidal experiences. A purposive sampling strategy was used. Trustworthiness of the analysis was assured with researcher triangulation. Results: Participants relayed both positive and negative experiences of interpersonal relationships. A novel conceptual model is presented reflecting a highly complex interplay between a range of different suicidal experiences, psychosis, and aspects of interpersonal relationships. Three themes fed into this interplay, depicting dynamics between perceptions of i. not mattering and mattering, ii. becoming disconnected from other people, and iii. constraints versus freedom associated with sharing suicidal and psychotic experiences with others. Conclusion: This study revealed a detailed insight into ways in which interpersonal relationships are perceived to interact with psychotic and suicidal experiences in ways that can be both beneficial and challenging. This is important from scientific and clinical perspectives for understanding the complex pathways involved in suicidal experiences. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT03114917), 14th April 2017. ISRCTN (reference ISRCTN17776666.); 5th June 2017). Registration was recorded prior to participant recruitment commencing.