Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Hilary DeShong

Committee Member

Mary Dozier

Committee Member

Raymond Tucker

Committee Member

Michael Nadorff

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Visible to MSU only for 1 year

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Applied Psychology (Clinical Psychology)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Psychology


The suicide rate in the United States continues to rise, and rates of Veteran deaths are 1.5 times greater than those of non-Veteran adults. Previous research demonstrates that higher rates of suicide acceptability are positively related to suicide planning, suicidal ideation, and attempts. Examining rates of suicide acceptability in a Veteran and non-Veteran sample may be one pathway to understand the process by which attitudes are linked to behaviors. Study 1: Study 1 included a preliminary examination of a pre-screening measure, the Veteran Verification Questionnaire (VVQ), which aims to increase the validity of a Veteran sample online and reduce possible misrepresentation. Results indicated that the VVQ successfully differentiated between Veterans and non-Veteran students. Additionally, participants that answered 8 out of 12 possible items correctly were more likely to be Veterans (89%) whereas a score of 7 or less indicated that the participant was more likely to be a student. Study 2: Study 2 first examined whether or not veterans and non-Veterans differed significantly on suicide acceptability when accounting for age and sex. Study 2 also examined whether Veteran status predicted suicide acceptability using the Attitudes Towards Suicide Scale in the sample after accounting for age, sex, suicide risk and exposure to suicide. The results demonstrated that suicide acceptability rates varied significantly between Veterans and non-Veterans such that Veterans endorsed higher rates of suicide acceptability. The results from a hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicate that suicide risk, suicide exposure, and Veteran status accounted for a total of 25% of the variance in acceptability scores. The findings also demonstrate that Veteran status only accounted for 4% of the total variance whereas suicide risk accounted for 10% and exposure to suicide behaviors accounted for 11%. Interestingly, the direction of these predictions between suicide risk and exposure to suicide with suicide attitudes were opposite of expected.