How to Cope with Perfectionism? Perfectionism as a Risk Factor for Suicidality and the Role of Cognitive Coping in Adolescents

Karlijn W.J. de Jonge-Heesen*, Sanne P.A. Rasing, Ad A. Vermulst, Rutger C.M.E. Engels, Daan H.M. Creemers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Suicide among adolescents is a significant health concern. Gaining more knowledge about markers that contribute to or protect against suicide is crucial. Perfectionism is found to be a personality trait that is strongly predictive for suicidality; it can be divided into personal standards perfectionism (PS) and concerns about mistakes and doubts perfectionism (CMD). This study investigated the association between PS, CMD, and suicidality in a sample of 273 Dutch secondary school students aged between 12 and 15 years old (M = 13.54, SD = 0.58, 55.8% males). We also examined whether adaptive, or maladaptive cognitive coping strategies influenced these associations. We hypothesized that students high in PS or CMD would experience an increased suicidality. Moreover, we expected that adaptive coping strategies would act as buffer between the association of perfectionism and suicidality, and that maladaptive coping strategies would strengthen this association. For analyses, we used a regression model with latent variables. The results showed that higher scores in perfectionism (PS and CMD) were related to an increase in suicidality. High levels of maladaptive coping in combination with high levels of perfectionism were associated with an increase in suicidality. Although adaptive coping was related to a decrease in suicidality, adaptive coping in interaction with PS and with CMD was not a predictor of suicidality. The results are relevant for prevention, and intervention programs. This paper makes recommendations for clinical practice and further research in order to prevent suicidality in adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-216
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Rational - Emotive and Cognitive - Behavior Therapy
Volume39
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

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© 2020, The Author(s).

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