A difficulty in recalling specific autobiographical memories has been noted as a risk factor for suicidal behaviour. However, the relationship between memory specificity and suicide has not previously been investigated in those with non-affective psychosis. It was predicted that in this group, more specific memory recall would be associated with an increased risk of suicide. This is because such specific memories are likely to be associated with greater levels of distress and negative affect than less specific memories. This prediction contradicts the prevailing belief that lower memory specificity is associated with greater suicidality. Sixty participants with schizophrenia spectrum disorders were recruited, 40 of whom reported past suicide attempts. Analyses showed suicide attempters recalled a greater proportion of specific memories, whilst controlling for trait anxiety and depressive symptoms. These results supported the main hypothesis, and suggest non-specific memory may have adaptive qualities in individuals with psychosis.
- Autobiographical memory
- Overgeneral memory