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Impact of Race on Perception of Suicide Risk and Dangerousness

This study examines the ways that the race of an individual who is disclosing suicidal thoughts to a stranger impacts the way the stranger interprets the situation, reacts, and intervenes. Participants were recruited online and participated through an online-based survey. They first read a vignette that asked them to imagine being in a situation with a stranger (specifically, a rideshare driver) where the stranger discloses mental health struggles that put them at medium to high risk of suicide. Along with the vignette, participants were shown a photo of the stranger who was either a Black man or a White man. After, participants responded about the stranger/drivers’ suicide risk, risk to others, and likelihood of calling 911, alongside other questions. It was hypothesized that participants would be more likely to intervene in a way that takes the autonomy away from a Black individual experiencing suicidal ideation than a White individual (through involving emergency services or taking a person to the hospital). Further, it was hypothesized that Black individuals experiencing suicidal ideation would be rated as a greater danger to themselves and others than White individuals. This work contributes to research on mental health/suicide intervention and race relations in the United States.

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