Defeat, entrapment, and hopelessness: clarifying interrelationships between suicidogenic constructs

D. Nicolas Oakey-Frost, Emma H. Moscardini, Kirsten Russell, Susan Rasmussen, Robert J. Cramer, Raymond P. Tucker

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Psychological theories of suicide posit conceptually similar constructs related to the development of suicidal thinking. These constructs often evince high-magnitude interrelationships across studies. Within these theories, defeat, entrapment and hopelessness standout as conceptually and quantitatively similar. Theoretical improvements may be facilitated through clarifying the subscale and item-level similarities among these constructs. Factor analytic and phenomenological work has demonstrated equivocal evidence for a distinction between defeat and entrapment; hopelessness is not typically analyzed together with defeat and entrapment despite evidence of large-magnitude interrelationships. This study explored the interrelationships among the foregoing constructs within a sample of undergraduate students (N = 344) from two universities within the Southeastern United States. Participants, oversampled for lifetime history of suicidal ideation and attempts, completed an online cross-sectional survey assessing defeat, entrapment, hopelessness and SI. Exploratory factor and parallel analyses demonstrated support for a one factor solution when analyzed at subscale level of the three measures as well as when all items of the three measures were analyzed together. Ad hoc exploratory structural equation modeling (ESEM) bifactor results evinced support for the existence of a single, general factor at the item level. Item level communalities and bifactor fit indices suggest that hopelessness may be somewhat distinct from defeat and entrapment. Clinical and theoretical implications are discussed in the context of study limitations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10518
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2022


  • defeat
  • entrapment
  • hopelessness
  • suicidal ideation
  • factor structure
  • theory


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